Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Watson's Grocery Museum

On the same day we visited Niland's Cafe in Colo, we stopped at Watson's Grocery Museum in State Center.  It was closed, so we contented ourselves with looking intently through the windows.  Jeff Merrill, who owns Remarkable Rose, Floral & Gifts down the street, was watering flower pots at the business next-door, noticed our interest, and offered to open the museum up and give us a tour!  
Things like that don't happen every day!  Needless to say, we were delighted and very thankful!  Having grown up in State Center, Mr. Merrill was very familiar with the history of the grocery store and surrounding area and proved a very informational guide.

Watson's Grocery was opened in 1895 and operated until the death of Florence Watson in 1981.  It was opened as a museum in 1989 by the city of State Center and is open May-September from 1-4 pm. on weekends or by appointment.  There is no admission fee.
The first thing that caught my eye upon entering is the display of beautiful wax baked goods.
 
There were old boxes and tins for various types of food, soaps, and other household items.
 
 The drawers and bins behind the counter were used for storing goods like sugar, flour, and raisins.  Mr. Merrill told us that the raisin bin was right at the end of the counter and children used to snatch a few as they walked by.
In 1962 the store became a Greyhound bus stop (the reason for the bench at left).  The people of State Center use the store now for various holiday celebrations, and now that's where Santa sits to greet the children during the winter holidays.
Above is an old-fashioned soda pop machine.  The directions read, "To operate, select bottle desired from display rack.  Insert in wheel pocket of same flavor as indicated by crown on door.  Draw reel toward you.  Serve next bottle.  Always leave pocket empty.  Always put in warm bottle to get a cold one.  Never use salt ice."
 There were several interesting contraptions in the store such as the McCaskey Safe Register (used to help storekeepers with accounting) and the scale on the right.  A meat grinder, a slicer, another scale, and an old-fashioned cash register were all fascinating to see.

Upstairs there was a balcony used as an office overlooking the store with a couple typewriters, an old telephone, books, and desks.  The photo below is a view of the store from the office.
Objects of historic interest that have been donated to the historical society are kept near the back of the store.  
 On the side there is a hallway with a door through which deliveries were brought.  This has been converted into a gallery of old photos that belonged to the locals as well as newspaper clippings of interests.
Watson's Grocery Store gives a glimpse into everyday life in the early twentieth and late nineteenth century and is a small town historic treasure trove!  It was providential that we were blessed with a tour.  Many thanks to Jeff Merrill for taking time out of his busy day to show us the store!

42 comments:

  1. how very sweet of that man to open it up for you!

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    1. Agreed! It was a wonderful, unexpected treat!

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  2. WoW...what a great place!! i remember when everything came in tins and bottles!! that was so sweet of the man to open this up for you. there are still so many kind peeps in this world!!!

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    1. Yes! It's awesome to run into nice people!

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  3. This looks like a fascinating tour! :) How ever do you manage to find so many museums?! :)

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    1. When we are planning a trip I usually check a road map, look up the towns we'll be going through on TripAdvisor and check city chamber of commerce websites--between those three I can usually find most everything listed, but beside that, we just keep an eye out! :)

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  4. I would have loved to check that place out, even though I've never heard of a Grocery Museum. I guess I need to get out more... :)

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    1. I hadn't heard of one either till recently! Neat all the places that are around for the finding! :)

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  5. Bethany it is very interesting place especially the lovely plates.

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    1. Thanks Gosia! Old china is often so beautiful!

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  6. Wow, spectacular! I've never been to something like this; never even knew such a museum existed. Definitely unique, and fun! And how wonderful of that man to let you in

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    1. Yes! It's neat to see all the little museums hidden in little towns! And it was so kind of the gentleman!

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  7. Wow, this place looks spectacular! Me and my family will surely go there when we visit Ohio again!! Thanks for the lovely pictures :)

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    1. Thanks! I hope you do visit it! It's right here in Iowa...not sure if that would be any closer to you though :)

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  8. What a fantastic place, Bethany! :) I just love a journey back in time, and your photos are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this tour!

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    1. Thank you Linda...the photos were taken on my Nikon's last day before its sensor really gave out. It was a faithful camera to the end!

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  9. Such a fascinating place! Thank you for sharing the pictures with us! I feel like I'm on the tour although I'm not physically there:)
    Great post!
    June
    The Journeys' of my beating heart

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  10. There will be another big "WOWWWWW" from my side :) Very nice place!!!

    I love gallery of old photos!!! xoxo

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    1. The photos were a very pleasant surprise addition to the tour!

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  11. Wow! What a wounderful place, Bethany! Really a great tour and trip back in time!
    Thanks for those amazing pictures!

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  12. A fantastic place. Thanks for leting me in :-))

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  13. I am loving those old shoes :) Your photos are always a joy to look at - you seem to share a story through them and I feel like I am right there enjoying everything.

    Happy Thursday :)

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    1. Glad to hear! Happy Friday (now) to you! :)

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  14. You are revealing so many wonderful things about our states. I had no idea there was a grocery museum. Anywhere!!! Do they have a website? Thank you so much.

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    1. I don't think the museum has a website of it's own; the city does keep a page on their historical society though which shows the hours of the museum and some history (http://www.statecenteriowa.org/node/82).

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  15. Nice! Very interesting collections. Bethany have a wonderful evening. Hugs!

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  16. Coucou Bethany,
    Je te remercie pour cette charmante et intéressante visite au musée!! C'est un bel endroit remplie de magnifique souvenir d'époque ··❥

    Bisous

    Manon

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  17. Closed in 1981 and is now a museum? Makes me feel old!

    Nice pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. The years go by quickly! I think the reason it's a museum though is how long it was opened before then. ;)

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  18. I think that grocery store would be a good place to take children on a field trip. Learning history is much more interesting when you get to see the objects and be in a historical building. I think the vending machine is interesting and I have a fascination for old vending machines as they are unique.

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    1. Yes! It would be an awesome learning experience for children (it would be even more exciting for them if they could travel all the way from Australia for their field trip)! ;)

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  19. Must have been really great to see! So many old and beautiful things :))

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  20. Aww, that looks like such a cool little piece of everyday history to stop and see! How awesome that he was there to open it up for you!

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