Home sweet home for 122 years plus


This is not a service station nor will it be. It is a "work-in-progress" family gathering place styled after West's Grocery, formerly in business near Tarry, Arkansas.

Eighty five years ago, Laverne Lyle Barrett was born in the home where she now lives. Next door to that home is the building you see above, a new family gathering place, crafted to resemble her daughter-in-law’s father’s store. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see more pictures and get in on the beginning of this story.


Laverne Lyle Barrett's home and birthplace was built by her grandfather in 1895. The new family gathering place under development by her son and daughter-in-law can be seen to the right.

Laverne Lyle Barrett shares her home with her three dogs, Rip, Nip, and Gip, all unsolicited gifts from nefarious dog dumpers. Laverne and her neighbor and daughter, Gail Lane provide a home to eight dogs so dumped.


It did not take long to figure out that Laverne Barrett's face is normally in the smiling mode. Here it is even more so as talks about her dogs.

Laverne’s family settled in the area probably around or shortly after the civil war. By 1895, when the house above was built, the Lyles had five sons, a farm, cotton gin, sawmill, blacksmith shop, store/post office and a brick kiln.

Laverne’s father, Cullen W. Lyle was born in 1887, in a log cabin near the large trees to the right of the house picture above. Her grandfather built the cabin and the house.

Laverne says her father told about her hauling cotton bales on a mule wagon to Pine Bluff, some 30 miles or more to the north by todays highways.

All farms, before mechanization and electricity had a number of outbuildings to serve utilitarian purposes. One such example is the corn crib below, adjacent to the new building. Laverne is ready to tear it down, her children beg to differ and right now, they are winning.

corn crib

This corn crib is around 150 years old. The logs were set with gaps small enough to keep the critters out and big enough provide adequate ventilation to the stored corn.

old gas pump

This gravity pump and Conoco sign were moved here from their original location at Wests Grocery.

The gas pump you see was used before a safe and reliable electric pump and meter combination were available. The long handle to the right of the was attached to the actual gas pump. As the operator moved the handle back and forth, gas was pumped to the glass container above.

Each of the graduations on the vertical thingamabob in the glass container were used to determine how much gas was being pumped. When the proper amount was in the glass. The operator put the nozzle in the tank, pressed the handle and good ol’ gravity gassed up your car.

If you bought your gas at a “fillin’ station,” about the only merchandise you would find included tire patching supplies, oil, anti-freeze and a few other auto related items. Food items were generally limited to sodas (known in the south as “cole-dranks”) and nickel sacks of peanuts. The cole-dranks were supposed to be, well, cold, but most of the time, any temperature below ambient counted as cold.

Across the road from the house and meeting place is the original barn, in continuous use since it was built.


This barn, by Laverne Barrett's estimate probably predates 1887. The round bin was a more recent addition. Probably replacing the leaning corn crib.

Most old small town and rural fillin’ stations came complete with a resident dog. It was almost as if there were  unwritten rules  mandating Fido’s presence. The new family meeting facility will be no different, since there is a plethora of canine candidates to do the honors at the Barrett-Lane premises.


You can't start too early. Dogs in training are apparently preparing to take up the serious mantle of being a "fillin station" dog, a time honored tradition without which no station is complete.

The Barrett-Lane corner of the world is not only populated with fine human beings, it is also a treasure trove of photo oportunities. The goodies per acre count is off the chart. For that I am grateful and am grateful for the opportunity to report my findings.

Thanks for dropping by,



7 Responses

  1. Thank you for making my mother’s day! I loved the photos and I loved the story!


    • Randy, the pleasure was on this end. Your mother and sister are delightful people. You certainly have my admiration for what you are doing.

  2. Happy 100th!

    “Food items were generally limited to sodas (known in the south as “cole-dranks”) and nickel sacks of peanuts.”

    Well done on proper identification of the drink and the container for the peanuts. So may uniformed folk now refer to such containers as bags. Uhh!

  3. “Bag” is Yankee for “sack.”

  4. As you know, I amazed how you are a magnet for general stores. But now you found a place styled after one. Love the pic of the pump b/c I haven’t seen one like that!

    The description of the fillin’ station was great because I too remember those days. I grew up in a small town, but large compared to many of the places you visit, but yes … the stations were limited to gas and a few items … and some even service. Oh how they’ve changed.

    Lost in our world of so many clueless people wondering through life is all the good people like Laverne. They are also everywhere – at work, in our neighborhoods, at church in the cities, the small towns, and the rural areas …we unknowingly pass them every day on the streets, in stores, and any other place one encounters others.

    I get the sense you already knew this family, then again, I’ve read this blog enough times to know that you routinely encounter strangers … and continually discover the goodness so many people are willing to share.

    Thanks Joe for continuing to be a positive beacon.

    Sorry I was late on this one … I was on the road last week.

    • Frank, this discovery falls in the ” … blind hog finds acorn” category. I rounded a curve and there it was. Not stopping to ask about it was not an option. And you are spot-on correct about the good people. They are everywhere and there are plenty of them. For the most part, they mind their own business, which is, I suppose, an important part of being a “good people.” Fortunately, the ones I discover are willing to share.
      Frank, thanks for your comments.

  5. […] an earlier Weekly Grist story relating to West Grocery here. While you are in the mood to click around, may we suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week page […]

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