« Central Pacific Woodcutters’ Camp, Circa 1868-1870, Elko County, Nevada | Main | Gas, Food, and Lodging--Much More and Somewhat Less »

Smith Brothers General Store, Clinton, Iowa

 Smith Brothers General Store, Clinton, Iowa 6/81

In 1981,  just as I was beginning work on “Lincoln Highway: Main Street across America,” I made this photograph of Smith Brothers General Store at South 4th St. and the Lincoln Highway in Clinton, Iowa.

Time and the economy had not been kind to Clinton, and I wondered how much longer the business would stay open in a crumbling downtown. Three decades later, the downtown has decayed to empty storefronts and vacant lots, but Smith Brothers is still open and still sells an eclectic mash of hardware, antiques and chachkas similar to what I found three decades ago. Maybe even some of the same stock.

Thirty years later:

On a sloppy January 2014 day, we attended a funeral in town and drove to see what had become of the place.

The open sign was lit, Carol graced the front door for a photograph, and inside we found Steve Smith behind the counter. He is the son of Millard and nephew of Gene, who were the founding Smith brothers and ran the place for some 55 years. Steve says he started working here at age 16. As we wandered among the aisles crowded with tin buckets, beer signs, and boxes of bolts, I remembered where that 10-inch cast iron skillet of mine came from. I use it to this day.

Reader Comments (2)

Would love to shop in a store like this!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Roberts

I would love to shop in this store!

January 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Roberts

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>