Satterthwaites recall their youth in Shafter

The Satterthwaite family bought the Shafter Store in 1945, and last week, Don, Harry, and John Satterthwaite shared some of their memories about the store.
This week, the saga continues as they reminisce, and move on to the eventual demise of the store, but not of their memories.
Satterthwaites’ Shafter Childhood
John remembered, “We played in the cowboys and Indians in the feed shed, and  Mom was always cautioning us, ‘Stay off the cloth sacks. The feed came in 100-pound cloth sacks that ladies used to make blouses and dresses out of.”
“We had the big coal stove in the store, and we had two coal stoves over at the house.
“We had an ash pile over there that we called ‘Shafter Mountain.’ It would be 4 feet high and 20 feet long. I remember riding our bicycles up and over that thing in the summer.
“Of course, our ‘bathroom’ was down across the yard, and that was one of us kids’ projects for the summer, to redo the path to the outhouse. We would use those ashes to redo the path. It was fun times.”
Don said, “We got a lot of antiques with that store. In the attic and the feed shed, we found a couple of old radios. You open the top and look in there, and you would see nothing but a toroid coil. I guess that was an antenna, but I think they also had to use a wire for an antenna.
“Being kids, we got them out to play with them and left them out to get rained on and ruined. Catalogues that had been in that store for years showed shotguns and pistols, single-barreled shotguns with just a pistol grip on it. People probably used to use them for rabbit hunting.
“We didn’t have sense enough to keep them. There was a lot of history in some of that stuff that we inherited with the store,” Don said.
Gun Powder, Vinegar, etc.
Harry recalled a metal decanter that held gun powder, from which men could fill their powder horns.
The brothers remembered that they sold Eclipse feeds. They purchased a lot of their groceries from Hulman and Co.
“They had the first semi-truck that I can remember seeing,” John said. “It was a single-axle off the tractor part.
“We would get bulk barrels of vinegar. They would open side doors on that semi-trailer and put ramps up. It would take three or four guys to keep those barrels of vinegar from getting away from us,” he said.
“We would roll them down the ramp on their side, then stood them up on the back porch of the store on concrete.  
“They had wooden hand-pumps they would put in the barrel, and hammer a couple of wedges in to hold the pump tight. Mom always kept clean, white cotton cloth, so if the customer wanted the ‘mother’ in the vinegar she would leave the cloth, off the jug or container the vinegar was being pumped into. If they didn’t want the ‘mother,’ she would put the clean cloth over the mouth over the spout and all they would get is the vinegar. The people would bring their own glass jug to get the vinegar in.
Large sheet metal signs from Coca-Cola, Sunbeam Bread, Lee Tires and Grant Batteries were tacked to the sides of the store. A large bread box was in the front of the store for early morning bread deliveries.
“We had several cats around,” John said. “There was a time I think the cats almost outnumbered the people in Shafter.”
“I was naming them after the kids in school one time, and I ran out of names,” Don added.
Don, Harry & John, individually
All three brothers worked for neighboring farmers while they were still at home.
Don went to college for one year at the University of Illinois, then worked at various jobs, until he was drafted into the military. He was honorably discharges, then rejoined the Army after a year. He retired from the Army after 22 years.
After trying various occupations, he eventually went to work for Fayette Service (now South Central FS) several years ago, where he still holds a seasonable job. And he enjoys fishing.
Harry went right from high school to the U of I and graduated in 1960 with a degree in agriculture. “I came back home for three years on the family farm, then the Army drafted me.” He served in the Army from 1963-65.”
Harry returned to the farm after the service and took a part-time job at The Leader-Union, where he worked for five years, from 65-70.  
He crossed the street, going from the newspaper office to the bank. “On Aug. 1, 1970, I went to the First National Bank of Vandalia, and retired from there about 5 1/2 years ago, just short of 35 years,” Harry said.
He now keeps busy doing family yard work.
John worked at several occupations before settling down to his first love, farming.
“I grew up working for Dad and other farmers, and the first job I had after high school was working for Denny’s Department Store with Dave Reeter and Vernon Berger.
“I can remember Dave standing back and watching the first time I waited on a customer. The education that we got growing up in that store. I counted back the change and everything, just like the old days, to the customer,” he said.
“Dave seemed kind of proud of me. After the lady had gone, he told me I had done a good job waiting on her, “John said.
“I went from there to Arthur Young’s (dealership) and sold cars when the 1965s and ’66s were new.”
He worked for Beabouts for a while, then went to Meadow Gold, then to Bluff Equipment. He was looking toward a profitable career as an innkeeper, but decided he wanted to rear his children in a country setting. He declined the opportunity, and stayed on his farm.  
The brothers live close enough that they can easily visit and maintain their close, good-natured rapport. Their other brother, Robert, lives in Missouri.  Their four sisters are; Rebecca, Susan, Margaret and Loretta (Sis).
The End of an Era
Donald Satterthwaite Sr. died in 1980, after operating the store with irregular hours for only a few years following his wife’s death in 1960. He finally closed the doors for the last time on what had once been the hub of the that area. More than that, it had provided a safe and happy childhood environment for his growing family,
“After Dad died in 1980, it wasn’t too many years that we had the store torn down,” Don Jr. said. “We continued to rent out the family home until it burned down. We finally sold the corner in 1994-95. It was in our ownership for almost 50 years.”
The store ledger customer entries that were not completed as “paid” must seem well balanced out by the good memories of innocent, healthy, happy childhoods.
The memories will always be theirs, such as the Satterthwaite kids playing in the no-longer-functioning “old shop building,” and sliding down the chute where the grain bags were slid down to the mill; playing with the kids across the road, when there was never a dull moment; the store’s old cold water soda cooler, from which young Harry would, “unnoticed,” slip  a bottle of soda, quickly ”chug-a-lug” it down and slip the empty bottle back in the cooler “with no one ever knowing the difference”; Mom’s ice cream crock and dipping the ice cream in the little box containers with the wire bails, and all of the other the fun times.  

The Satterthwaite brothers display some of the unique inventory from the Shafter Store when it was operated by their parents. From left, Harry holds old skillets, Donald Jr. is holding a gun powder flask, and John is holding an old cake pan and a 1946 Farmers’ Almanac.

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