There is an old general store that has been closed for some years in the remote community of Valley View, Kentucky. What surprised me was who lived inside.
Many years ago, I stopped by and took a peek in through the dirty glass, and found that much of the interior from its days as a general store remained intact. It was a beautiful building in its hay day, with white wood clapboard siding, a long and slender front porch, and a perch that gave it a commanding view of the road below. A Pepsi cola sign hung on the outside that reminded passerby of what type of beverages were sold.
I could only daydream about the “old days” of people sipping Ale-8 and smoking tobacco on the front porch of what was a community gathering spot. Before the advent of soulless and bland all-in-one groceries and hypermarkets in far-flung suburbs and cities, the general store was the hub of activity for the community. It’s where you heard the latest gossip, picked up the daily newspaper, and caught up on other life-and-death matters.
It was in the dead of summer when I drove through Valley View last year for the first time in years. Driving by the old store, my interest was piqued when I saw a new blue tarp to the side of the old building and what appeared to be stacks of coal or some other fuel for cooking and heating.
I parked my car by the side of the road and walked up the steps to the general store, peering in the dirty glass much as I had back then. A crackly voice barked out from the other side of the front porch.
“Hey, who are you?”
I was startled. An elderly gentleman, with a thin frame and a face covered with soot, approached me. He was holding a sandwich in one hand and motioned toward me with the other.
I told him I was a photographer and historian who was curious about the old store. After a brief discussion, I learned that he owned and had once operated the old store – and still lived inside despite its deteriorated outward appearance.
I am not sure how coherent the man was. He complained about a buzzing sound inside his ears, people conversing to him despite no one else nearby, and about the Japanese. He was convinced that I was of Japanese lineage but went nowhere with that conversation. Outside of the small talk about the store, much of what he had said was barely recognizable.
I worried about his well-being after departing. It’s had been a long, cold winter, and I had hoped that he kept warm and dry in that old general store down at Valley View.
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[…] Mr. Masters was born on December 6, 1928 in Millon, Kentucky1 to his parent, Esther Masters,2 and worked as a clerk in Fayette County before operating the Valley View General Store. […]
I love finding and photographing these little country stores.. Is the building still there to be photographed?
Wow, I been doing family research, and a few of my relatives lived on tates creek rd . Valley View ferry first owner was John Million in late 1700’s his daughter Henrietta married Peyton Foster. Then he married into the Perkins. They had a daughter in 1833 Elizabeth who married Peyton Kidwell that also lived there on tates creek. Who had a daughter Susan Kidwell that married Samuel Portwood . The Portwoods also was from the area. I would love to know how old the store was and the owners from the past and and information on the family’s and other place of the area.
Liz, I believe this is the store my Grandfather, Henry Clay Howe, owned in the early 1900’s.
My mother said he went out of business from issuing too much credit and not getting paid during WW1.
He went on to own a carnival which operated seasonally till his death in 1940. My mom was born in Valley View and the family moved after Henry Clay’s death. I would love to be sure if this is the same building and/or site of the original building he owned.
Do you know good places to research?
Mr. Masters fell victim to weather and passed away. He was a fixture there.