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Stores of yesteryear- Grady Arnold and Tull Gentry

By:  Jack Swift

County Historian

Last week I wrote in this column about some old stores that were in existence when I was young. I knew of course that there were others but I could remember no others at the time my column was written. In the column I invited folks who remembered other stores to send the names of them to me with some information about them. Well, I received a nice e-mail from Lowell Fritts last week. Lowell’s father was the late Ross D. Fritts, who was one of Johnson County’s finest educators. He had experience as an elementary school teacher and principal, a high school teacher and principal and he was also Johnson County’s Superintendent of Schools for several years. Moreover, he was once owner and editor of the Tomahawk newspaper. Mr. Fritts was a man I highly respected and I was thankful for his friendship.
In the e-mail Lowell says he grew up in the Corn Creek community of Johnson County. He left Johnson County when his family moved to Maryland in 1947 in the fall of his junior year at Johnson County High. He says he continues to subscribe to the Tomahawk to keep up with what is going on in the Johnson County area. “As time passes, I recognize fewer and fewer people but I always enjoy learning about all that goes on there,” said Fritts.
He mentioned one of the stores that he remembered from the days his family lived in Johnson County. That store was Grady Arnold’s store. Fritts says it was located at the intersection of Highway 421 North and Liberty Church Road near what was then Pleasant Valley Elementary School. I believe that is where the Johnson County Highway Department is now located. He says his mother the late Cessie Fritts often would send him or his brothers to the store to buy items that they didn’t raise on the farm such as salt, sugar, etc.
He recalls another popular store, Tull Gentry’s store located on the road heading up toward the Cold Springs community. “That’s where his father bought shoes for the family for about $5.00 a Pair. He pointed out that $5.00 was a lot of money then. If anyone remembers any old country stores that were located in Johnson County, you may e-mail information about them to me.
My e-mail address is [email protected]