January? 2024? How is that possible? I guess this proves the old saying time flies when you are having fun. Reflecting back on 2023 the determination of if it was a good year or not depends on who you are and another factor is your age. I remember the 60’s to me it was the best of times but to some, especially the Vietnam soldier it was the worst years of their lives, thousands of miles away from home and the terrible images of war. It is my prayers that each of you will have a blessed and prosperous 2024.
Now on to what January brought in past years, well first I want to start by saying if you needed winter boots or thermal underwear, we could stop in at Crider Brothers. Now where is Crider Brothers, well for those born before the 1980’s most of you know, but after that you may have no clue. For those that have traveled 259 when you arrive at the intersection of Little Dry River you have arrived at Crider Brothers. Now this store was run by two brothers and just guess what their last names were? If you guessed Crider, you are right! Loy and Charlie and both lived within sight of the store, both on 259 but one west and the other one east of the store. But in the early 80’s that changed, the name was changed to M & R Feed and Hardware.
What did M & R stand for? Matthew and Ronnie, yes, I was a partner in a hardware store. At the time we still had Mac’s Superette so we moved the groceries to Mac’s and the shoes and hardware that was at Mac’s came to M & R this made each store more of a specialty store, and we sold, “You can trust your car to the man that wears the star TEXACO GAS”. I will have to say we moved most of the food to Mac’s, but we kept food to make sandwiches, and because of the demand we sold “strong cheese”.
Now strong cheese came in a round wooded box and most stores just set it on a table, and when a customer came in and wanted strong cheese you would take the wooden cover off of the cheese, pull out a large knife and place it on top of the cheese and move it back and forth until the customer told you that’s good and then you cut the wedge of cheese to the amount the customer wanted. You then put it on a white waxed meat paper, weigh it, wrapped it, priced it and there you are, cheese to go.
Or we’d hand it to them with a sleeve of crackers and lunch was served. The second day we opened the doors, an old timer that lived on Dry River stopped in and asked if we had strong cheese. We told him “not yet” we were still setting up accounts with vendors to carry these items. His reply was direct and to the point, “Ain’t gonna be much of a store if you don’t have strong cheese.” That pretty much summed up his opinion of the store, so we had to sell strong cheese!
Another item we sold might surprise you young people. It was fast, had a motor but no wheels, no steering wheel, and January normally was one of the best months to take a ride. What is it? Snowmobiles! Yes, Fulks Run had a dealership for Artic Cat Snowmobiles. Now this was a different time in Fulks Run. When we had measurable snowfall, it was not uncommon to look out and there would go a snowmobile past the store, yes, on 259. Was it legal to run these on the highway? NO, but some of these snowmobiles would run in excess of 100 miles per hour and there were people in Fulks Run that weren’t afraid to open them up.
Besides, most of this was after dark, so even if a deputy would come through, how long would you think the chase would last on an icy snow-covered road at 100 miles per hour. And keep in mind the secondary roads like Hopkins Gap and Little Dry River had not even been plowed yet. I must admit this was my favorite sport, riding snowmobiles. We actually departed from M & R one snowy night and rode over to Genoa Road and up to the Hog Pens.
We did meet one four-wheel drive truck that night, but as you can imagine, there is very little traffic, if any and even then, they are driving very slowly. Another benefit is you can see the headlights of an oncoming vehicle for miles before meeting them on the road. On one occasion we hauled the snowmobiles up to the foot of the mountain, unloaded and to the top of the mountain we went. A foot or a foot and a half of snow was no problem for them. The only downside to snowmobiling is you need to have the proper clothing, a motorcycle helmet with shield, along with long johns, a warm wool shirt, insulated coveralls, and a pair of very good gloves is much recommended.
And of course, Artic Cat sells official clothing for the snowmobiling enthusiast. I will say that if we received more snow in our area, I would still own one today, If you have never ridden a snowmobile before and you have the opportunity, don’t be afraid…take a ride, and happy trails to you.
Believe it or not.
Until next time,