Old photo of Haynes General Store in Clearwater. (Photo from Rich History of the North Thompson group on FB)

Some memories and experiences are meant to last a lifetime

Some experiences and memories are meant to last a lifetime, even things that were once deemed ‘ugly’ seem to become more valuable over time.

The charm of a quaint general store is alive and well in many parts of B.C. It’s so fun to go exploring these eclectic spots, even today I’m drawn inside to see what kind of unique treasures might be hidden within.

I love shopping local, especially in a rural setting like my hometown of Clearwater or when visiting other villages and towns in B.C. Even now I stop by the more modern local grocery store, forgetting the bread but coming out with more items than I need and almost always having had a few great visits with people I have known most of my life. Priceless.

We owned a family general store back in the 70’s in Clearwater. It had everything imaginable stuffed into that store. Hunting and fishing licences, gear and ammo, car stereos, records, tapes, books, greeting cards, gift ware, home décor, an exclusive selection of Levi jeans in all sizes, boots, clothing, local honey, and a large selection of canned, frozen, and fresh foods.

Our three-bedroom home was attached, connected by a large warehouse space with freezers, shelves and tables for receiving orders and pricing. We had the only after-hours gas pump access for the local RCMP in the event of an emergency. They had their own key.

Remodeling was tricky and costly but our mother was determined and upgraded the food section to have an expensive walk-in cooler put in and a changing letter sign installed on the rooftop of the western looking building.

Long log benches were added for visiting outside. The wooden planked floors were sanded and oiled, maintained with some green ‘ape’ stuff that you sprinkled on top at the end of the day. A moist green sawdust substance that picked up dirt when you swept it up while keeping the floors from getting dried out.

We inherited these gaudy plates, and were told by the former owners, they were painted with ‘real gold filigree’ and various designs in a logging theme. The plates were designed with a gold painted logging truck on them and some with all of the Canadian flags circling the outside. We tried everything we could think of to get rid of those plates. Half price, a free plate if you spent over a certain amount and then free for the taking. No one wanted them. We’d hand them off and they would be handed back with a polite “no thank you” and back under the counter they would go. We couldn’t even donate them.

Then on a fateful Halloween night, someone who had stolen something from our store and was charged by the local police with a number of other crimes, decided that he should get back at us for being arrested, throwing Molotov cocktails through the front windows of the store after cutting our home and business phone lines. His angry act changed our lives forever as we scrambled to safety thanks to an amazing neighbour calling the fire department. Looking back many of us have speculated whether we should have rebuilt the old general store. Mom died a couple of years later, unable to cope with the loss.

The one thing that couldn’t be taken from us though was the memory and charm of our family general store. We still have conversations about it with long timers that remember and have a laugh about the good days around the store.

I bet you’ll never guess what survived that fire? Going back the next day with rubber boots, gloves and tools there in the middle of all of that rubble, sat two big boxes of those indestructible plates! The most astonishing thing is, they are valued now by many living in the valley, hanging proudly on their walls as a keepsake of days gone by. Now a cherished memory. They just don’t seem as ugly to us anymore.

Yes, some memories are meant to last a lifetime.

Hettie Buck

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