This farmhouse near Mendes likely dates to the late 19th century. I believe it may be associated with the Durrance family who are quite prolific in the area.
As you approach Mendes you feel as if you’ve stumbled into another time. Waters Service Station’s bright orange Gulf Oil sign stands like a beacon for the surrounding farmland. My first photograph of the store was featured on the Daily Shot on Garden & Gun‘s blog in 2013, and remains one of my favorites.
Suzy Durrence Coons writes: Growing up we didn’t refer to it as Waters Service Station, it was always Mr. Olen’s store. As a child we would stop for gas or for some kind of service, Mr. Olen always pumped your gas, and I always got a pack of gum, he continued giving a pack of gum to my daughter on her many visits to Mendes, and If I were with them, yes, I got one too. He was truly a loved man, I can see him now coming out of the store or service bay wiping his hands clean on a red shop cloth, and holding a cigar in his mouth. Loved that man!
The following memories, shared by various visitors, attest to the prominent position Anderson’s Grocery occupied in the day to day life of the Mendes community.
Paul: This store was owned by Ms. Dorothy Anderson who lived behind the store, and was run by Ruby Jean Purcell who lived across the side street and behind the Water’s store. The original location for the Anderson store was across the street that the brick building faces. The store moved to the brick building some time in the ’50s and stayed open until late January / early February of 2001 when Ruby Jean passed away.
This brick building sold gas until the mid ’90s (I think) and would routinely offer store credit via “a tab” for families that lived in the area and frequented the store. It wasn’t unusual to visit the store and see Ruby Jean and Ms. Dorothy sitting in rocking chairs by the window (which is where the window-unit AC and the gas heater were). They’d be sitting and talking with a regular customer or two, maybe a family member, and often times cutting and styling hair which was a common service offered at Anderson’s.
Russell Rewis: Loved this place when I was a child hot and sweaty from the tobacco fields with my Granddaddy. We would walk in and Ms. Dorothy or Ruby would write up the charge and my brother and I would leave with our favorite snack mine a frozen Milky Way and Coke. My Brother liked peanut butter crackers and Coke. Precious memories.
Suze Durrence Coons: Ruby Jean was the go to person when there was any kind of emergency. I remember as a very young girl the wood stove which was replaced by the gas stove. Many customers would sit around the stove and tell tales and exchange many blessings. it was a sad day when Ruby Jean died and the store closed. An icon that will truly be missed.
According to his descendant Erbie James, Jerry M. Tootle (10 August 1877-8 March 1956) was a cooper, or barrel-maker. He and his wife Eliza V. Tootle ( 21 March 1880-4 August 1968) are buried here. Their shared headstone at Harmony United Methodist Church is one of the most interesting occupational monuments I’ve seen.