Monday, May 10, 2010

CAUSEYVILLE GENERAL STORE - Meridian, MS

We spent about a week exploring Meridian, MS. One of the most interesting places we discovered is about 10 miles south of Meridian, the Causeyville General Store and Mill which occupies two structures side by side. The current general store is located in the "new" building which was erected in 1895. The original store was built in 1869 as a trading post for Chocktaw Indians in the area. A grist mill, an International Harvester model made by Meadows, is located in the 1869 building.

In talking with the owner we found that this was a community where everyone always knew everyone. When someone passes by you hear the car horn and if you're outside you exchange waves. As it is most everywhere else, new people have moved in and others have moved away. The owner said he probably doesn't know but about a third of the people now. We could have spent a good part of the afternoon on the front porch in the rockers sipping old-fashioned Coca-Colas and enjoying a Moon Pie, and talking with the chickens who were most happy we stopped. It was obvious you didn't want to get in their way - guess they "rule the roost". Definitely free rangers.

The main structure is an operating convenience store. A portion of the building houses a collection of player pianos and displays of old toys, books and other items from the 1930's and '40s. Original movie posters and photographs of the area decorated the walls, along with World War II memorabilia. If you enjoy Americana you would be fascinated by the store as well as all that is in it.

The 1895 store has served as the post office, voting precinct, doctor's office, barber shop, telephone exchange and a motion picture theater, among its many "lives".

The store property was purchased by E. W. Hagwood and his wife Nell in 1941. In the 1950s, their daughter Joan Irby bought the properties from her parents. In 1982, Joan sold the store property to her younger brother Leslie and his wife Dorothy. Leslie, a motion picture cameraman and Viet Nam veteran, restored the property and had it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (By the way, Leslie was a cameraman in the movie Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley). Leslie passed away about 10 years ago and the property is owned by his widow Dorothy Hagwood and their son Leslie Hagwood, Jr.

This is definitely a general store where "some things never change". We agree with the present owner who says, "You don't pass through Causeyville, you have to make an effort to get there."

Before we headed north we realized there were some interesting places to see around Meridian - like an old Carnegie Library built in 1912-1913, which is now the Art Museum. We saw the Jimmy Rodgers (the singing conductor and considered the father of country western music) Museum as well as the world's only 2 row stationary Dentzel menagerie carousel, manufactured around 1895.
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