Store holds many Golden memories

Posted 6/1/23

Printed on Diane White’s brightly-colored shirt was the message: “I smile because I have no idea what is going on!” Stay for a few minutes in the Golden Grocery and it becomes …

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Store holds many Golden memories


Printed on Diane White’s brightly-colored shirt was the message: “I smile because I have no idea what is going on!” Stay for a few minutes in the Golden Grocery and it becomes apparent that nothing is further from the truth.

Well, the shirt is partially true, in that White’s normal countenance is indeed a smile, but there is little doubt that she is the most well-informed lady in Golden.

White has been tending the counter at the Golden Grocery for 41 years. During the brief mid-morning visit to discuss the historical photographs hanging in the grocery, she greeted nine out of ten customers by their first names.

“The young building contractors, I don’t know,” she whispered. 

Now working under the seventh owner of the store, White’s extended family appears to be – all of Golden.

“I am a people person and I like the friendly, hard-working folks of Golden,” she admitted.

Eavesdropping on the easy banter with a steady sequence of customers revealed updates on medical problems, support for kids’ school projects, the cost of living and discussions of barbecue.

It could have been the barbecue which prompted the visit – it’s that good – but it was actually the historical photos. 

Most of the pictures are from the early twentieth century. A few originate from the turn of the century (the 19th to the 20th) and the most recent photo was from 1983. That picture is captioned, “Ben Bowdoin and his grandson, Seth, on their way to the third annual Sweet Potato Festival in Golden, October 19, 1985. The horses are Old Mare (left) and Old Yeller.” 

Taken as a whole, the two dozen photos are a treasure. They document much of what life in Golden was like 100 years ago. 

The collection is amazing in its variety. It includes workmen at the Golden Sawmill standing among some massive tree trucks. The 1930 Golden girls’ basketball team is represented. A shot of a locomotive at Golden Station can also be found. 

Mixed in among photos of a tornado-toppled house and the shared Baptist/Methodist churches, are people. 

In keeping with standards of the day, hardly a smile is seen – the 1912 photo of the Lankford children being a notable exception. 

In some parts of the world people shy away from photography as they believe it captures a part of their soul. A more likely explanation for these photos is simply: life was hard. In this photo, three of the five Lankford children were barefoot.

Most of the photos along the walls of the grocery contain a title or a description. Someone put time into proper documentation.

The aforementioned photo of the Lankford children has a description which reads, “Lankford children about 1912. Standing are Greer, Aline and Jim. Dan and Harold are in chair.”

A 1958 photo of the Wallace family features Charlie and Eva Lankford, each smiling. White recalled that Eva Lankford used to walk to the store every day. “She was just a special, sweet lady,” stated White.   

White also commented about the photograph of William C. Harpole and his wife Julie Ann Newman sitting on the running board of an early automobile. White marveled at just how much Billie John Harpole looks like his forefather. The Harpoles settled in Golden in 1893.

The description attached to the photo of men standing at the train station states, “Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway station that stood just across the railroad in front of Jno. T. Robinson General Merchandise Store. The little man sitting on the steps of the station is Jacob R. Sonendricker, grandfather of Myrtle Prickett.”

Also of note in that photo is the loading bay for stores as well as what appears to be a signaling device on the side of the station (although it could also be a rig for a chainfall to work cargo.) 

There are other interesting shots, a Woodmen of the World Circle from 1911 being one of them. There is always something to consider. Above the entrance bay of the blacksmith shop is a horseshoe turned down. Curious. There are surely other details of note in the collection. 

The Golden Grocery was built in 1972 by Carl and Becky Robinson. According to Golden resident Teri Fox, they were simply carrying on a family tradition. Carl Robinson’s father had owned the mercantile store in Golden and his grandfather had owned a gristmill in the community.

In the late 1960s Carl and Becky came back to Golden from Van Horn where they had operated a package store. They made their residence in the yellow frame house in downtown (Golden) after Carl’s mother, Pearl, passed in 1969.     

A number of proprietors have run the store since then, and it is now under the ownership of Pam and Jevin Womack and Paul Hayes. 

One telltale sign that it remains operational is the cooker slowly sending smoke up just to the west of the building. It is there that Hayes prepares brisket, pulled pork, jalapeno sausages and smoked baloney.

Providing barbecue is just one of the many roles played by the Golden Grocery. In addition to a steady lunch crowd, the parking lot serves as a transfer hub for Alba-Golden school bus-riders, and the store is the unofficial center of many community activities.  

And, in the back room, normally on Fridays, a group of older gents find time for dominoes – 42 is the favored game. That group counts George Russell, George Tom Hayes, Mike Humphries, Stan Smith, Jerry Caves, Travis Grindle and Bubba Peebles as regulars.

As one patron explained, “In Golden, Diane is the mayor and Golden Grocery is the hub.”  It should be added – and the keeper of a little bit of history.