old-groceryIf you think Fernandina is a small town today, you should have been around about fifty years ago. We were what you could really call “small town”. It was great though, especially now when I look back. At the time we thought it would be nice to see some growth and have more to do. I remember many people going to Jacksonville shopping or to purchase those items that just were not available here on Amelia Island. Driving to Jacksonville back then was a big deal, I can remember my mother planning a trip to Jacksonville for days, you just didn’t jump in the car and take off as we do today.

One of the things I really remember was our small grocery stores. On the corner of 7th and Beech Streets there was Sturges Grocery. It was a very small store but served the public well. It was noted for its great meat market as were all the grocery stores of yesterday.

At 8th and Hickory we had Lowes Grocery and Meat Market. This is the current site of Savage Stone. There was sawdust on the floor and that unmistakable smell that all small town grocery stores had. A meat market that would cater to your ever wish, cuts anyway you liked and packaging the way you wanted. Some families would buy a half of a beef, take it to a meat market and have it cut and packaged.

At main beach we had Moore’s Grocery. Ed and Stella Moore made sure you were satisfied with your shopping experience. Ed Moore had a reputation for preparing some of the finest marinated pork and beef roast in the region. Once you tried one of his roast you would be back for more, that was a given.

At Amelia City at the intersection of A1A and Fletcher Avenue we had Hall’s General Store. Mr. Hall did not specialize so much in the meat department as he supplied dry goods and general items to the folks who lived on the south end of the island.

One thing all of these stores offered was personalized service and they would deliver right to your door. Of course back then that was a common practice, milk and diary goods were delivered and the milk came in glass jugs. You simply placed the empties out on the steps and the milk man would replace them with full ones. I still remember the ice man. I know some of you right now thinking, what is an ice man. Even as late as the fifties there were still people who had “ice boxes” for refrigeration. Now an ice box is just that, a box that is cooled by ice. Riley would bring you a small block of ice for your box. At our boat yard we had a water cooler that required a block of ice daily, if we were to have cold water to drink. The ice sat on copper coils and cooled the water, simple but effective.

We have come a long way in just a short fifty years. Today the small general stores are gone and we now have super grocery stores. No home deliveries and that distinctive smell is gone, too. I wonder what would happen if someone opened another “old fashion” general store, I bet the buying public would go for it.

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