Past, Present, Future… A Life Lived in Wilson County
Former Shop Springs Student At this year’s Wilson County Fair, I was a bit surprised what made me the most “giddy”. No, it wasn’t the Ferris wheel, or the pig races, or even my usual favorite- the rooster collection. It was Pete’s Store in the Fiddler’s Grove section of the fairgrounds. Why was this piece of the past that had now been placed in my present so exciting to me? Because Pete’s Store, once located in Doak’s Crossroads, is a part of a very special memory to me. It was my first experience with community and with commerce.
My family owned a farm just across from the store, so this was the place where my parents would purchase many of our daily necessities. One of the usual practices of that day (early 60’s) was an account that was paid at the end of the month (and all the while, I thought my dad just had to sign in to purchase flour, candy or gasoline). Pete’s Store was also a gathering place to meet your neighbors and discuss any local issue that needed solving by that part of the community.
Mr. Pete’s wife, Mary Smith, served as the principal at Shop Springs School. I have fond memories of experiencing a three classroom school with grades 1 -8. I called several in the community who attended the school and asked them to gather for a picture and to discuss their memories with me for this article – Jo Smith (WANT Radio), Glen McPeak ( MTEMC), Jamie Johnson ( On Call Medical), Rick Thorne (THW Insurance), Becky Jennings (Wilson Bank and Trust), and John Clemmons.
We laughed as we went back to the days. The staff consisted of 3. The older girls served the lunch and the older boys got to burn all the milk cartons each day of school. The bus driver would stop so we could get off to pick opossum berries to eat. We enjoyed the music class, performing in the school plays (even the parents got parts), and cleaning up our own classrooms. We all agreed that Mrs. Mary Smith was strict and had very high expectations that taught us life skills that we all benefit from even now.
To this day, I can still see Mr. Pete behind the register making sure we were all doing fine at home and Mrs. Mary molding the minds of the children who attended Shop Springs School. It was more than a business and school; it was their life, their community, their little piece of this big world that they made a better place. And over 40 years later, I was reminded as I walked into that store at the fair how they got it right. Perhaps, as we consider how we can impact Wilson County for the future, we can learn from our past.