Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Pills, Petticoats and Plows: The Southern Country Store. By
Thomas D. Clark. Indianapolis (The Bobbs-Merrill Co.),
1944. Pp. 359. Illustrations. $3.50.
The preface of this very entertaining and highly important
study says: "This is a history of the country store in the South
from 1865 to 1915. It is an account of an institution which
played a major role in the lives of the rural people of the region.
The store was . . . a community clearinghouse. In the records
of the stores there is a vast amount of evidence of the part
which they played in the affairs of churches, schools, lodges,
banking, politics and farming."
Many of you who have lived at least during a part of the
period encompassed by this book will know how truly the
author has portrayed the typical Southern country store. Those
of you who still count your age in the twenties and thirties
can rest assured that here you have an account that is as exact
as a motion picture machine and a sound-recording device
could have made it. The twenty-one illustrations present a
composite and complete picture of the Southern country store,
inside and out. The carefully selected and highly advertised
store goods which are reproduced on the inside front and back
covers are highly illustrative of the technique of advertising
of the time. The mail order house catalogues have not changed
the technique much. The "plows" of the title are here repre-
sented by a double shovel and an assortment of plow points;
"petticoats" by two floor-length examples; and "pills" by Dr.
C. A. Simmons' Hepatic Compound. Reproductions of side
saddles, revolvers, shaving soap, hats, harmonicas, spectacles,
and lamps form only a small part of what by actual count
amount to over one hundred fifty illustrations.
The frontispiece, "At the Stoveside," although generally
typical of the inside of a country store, depicts a scene of
very recent times - certainly one after 1915--witness the
unmistakeable "So easy to take home the six bottle carton," fan
belts, and the zipper-closed jacket. Withal, the illustration is
good. The stoveside was, as the legend avers, the forum for the
discussion of "fox races, tobacco, cotton, horses, women, politics,
and religion." Fundamentalist and hell-fire and brimstone re-
ligion was widespread in the post-bellum South and was the
subject of daily discussion; the problems of the farmer always
interested the country storekeeper and his clientele; and the
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/. Accessed April 26, 2015.