Cane Poles and a Hardware Store

Amery sign in the downtown area

Amery Free Press Column

While traveling in western North Carolina, twice we came upon the strange sight of patches of bamboo growing next to the road. The intense yellow of the stalk and the green green of the leaves were unmistakable, and there they were—bamboo growing in March along a Carolina highway.
Just a couple weeks earlier I had been thinking of the Coast to Coast store on the main intersection of Amery, across from Chet’s Drug Store. Just to the left of the door were cane poles, bamboo poles reaching 12 feet into the air and held in by two metal bands attached to brick.

The fishing pole selection was varied, and I couldn’t begin to guess the price of each one. A few bucks each? And they stayed out there throughout the summer, theft not an issue.
This hardware store was a favorite of mine, now the Indigo Irish Natural Food Store. Walking into that store last November, I pictured where my 3 favorite “departments” were placed. And the floor felt the same as it did 60 years earlier.

First of all, the baseball and sporting goods area was fun, feeling the mix of baseball gloves, the baseballs, and the wooden bats standing upright. Usually I didn’t buy anything here, but it was fun to see and touch the new items.
On the southern wall I’d look through the fishing section with the lures, poles, and reels. Usually I’d study the Daredevils, but the real ones were too expensive so I’d buy the quarter knock-offs. Always on the hunt for the ideal bobber, the variety was more than a person could ask for. My preference wasn’t the round bobbers but the upright ones, shaped like a pencil. The bobber stood straight up and down, and the slightest nibble pulled it underwater.
The radio section was my favorite, a little bit further into the store on the south wall. A mix of transistor radios, maybe 10 to choose from, in a varied price range. From around $10 up to $30 or more, a steep price in 1960, these devices were must haves for a 12 year old.
The radio I eventually settled for was a $20 General Electric shiny black model, about the size of a small box of tissues. AM only but great sound wherever a young bike traveler like me would want to go.
Other than my favorite Amery stores which were Chet’s and Danielson’s Drug stores with their candy bars, nuts, and fountain drinks, the Coast to Coast became an excellent spot to browse on a summer day. Sometimes I’d even make a purchase.

2 Replies to “Cane Poles and a Hardware Store”

  1. I like the coast to coast story. It took me back to Jonson Hills store when I was young. No worries no hurry just enjoying the moment of seeing and yes touching things I knew I couldn’t have but at the time it made me happy and thanks for bringing that memory back. Or was it the Montgomry Wards. The only place in Rapids that had an elevator that I knew of. In December you took it up to the third floor to see Santa scared to death but excited. The Ladies restroom was my favorite It seemed so Rich with a love seat and end table it was beautiful in my little eyes

    1. I wrote a message to you, Julie, not sure where it went. Anyway, would you try logging in on the main page, going to the lower right and typing in your email and clicking sign up or whatever that is under it. It just got installed and I want to see if it works.

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