Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Betigheimer Store, Edwards, Mississippi

Country stores in Edwards, Mississippi.  Map drawn with ESRI ArcMap software.
The Betigheimer country store on Betigheimer Road.
The last two blog entries dealt with Margaret's Grocery. These small rural stores are cultural elements of the southern scene that are rapidly disappearing. They are fascinating photographic subjects and I will show more examples in the future. The subject of this essay is the Betigheimer store, formerly located at the corner of Hwy. 27 and Betigheimer Road, near Utica, Mississippi. The first time I photographed it was in 1986, when it was being used as an antique store.

A coworker who grew up in Utica told me he used to shop there as a child. He remembered buying his first cookies there, two for a penny (I didn't ask what century this might have been). He was intrigued by the fact that Germans ran a country store in a rural African-American community. How did they end up in a place like Utica? At the time, it was a classic country store, selling hardware, seeds, food, tools, nails, and useful supplies. He could not remember when it ceased business as a general merchandise store. The Betigheimers lived in a large wood house just east of the store, but it was struck by lightning and burned down sometime in the 1980s. A modern house is on the lot now.

When I returned in 1997, the antique business had closed, but there was a lot of old-fashioned machinery (junk) strewn about the yard. Nice stuff, but not much was happening.

The store burned sometime around 2000. I rarely drove on Hwy. 27, and one day in the early 2000s, it struck me that the store was gone. Sad, another piece of our heritage gone.

The first color photograph above is a Kodachrome 25 transparency taken with a Rollei 35S camera with f/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar lens. The next three are Kodachrome 25s taken with a Leica M3 rangefinder and 35 mm f/2.0 Summicron-RF lens (the famous 8-element version with the finder goggles). I scanned the transparencies as TIFF files with a Nikon Coolscan 4000 film scanner.

2 comments:

  1. I live in Louisiana (formerly from Woodville, MS) and I haven't passed through there in many moons. It saddens me to know the old store is gone. We always stopped there when I was young on our treks to Port Gibson, Jackson, etc.

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  2. I remember as a child in the '60's stopping there a few times on the way to church at Bethesda with my uncle and Grandma for a Coke. At that time it was more of what we would call a convince store today.

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