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."
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.Jeff Merrill for taking time out of his busy day to show us the store!