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Time marches on for old Robinson store

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By Jimmie Earls

Located in Washington County just north of Sharpsville, where Routes 53 and 390 meet, sits the rundown shell of an old general store once owned by Jack and Adylee Robinson. Fifty years ago, it was the hub of the community, a place where many local residents purchased their groceries, feed, seed, and even their clothing. Today, the old store is home only to a family of stray cats. Jack  has passed away, and at 94, Adylee is spry and still kicking up her heels. As Jack told The Springfield Sun in the April 21, 1982 issue, “Folks used to gather til midnight, sitting around at tables in here playing Rook.” Now the structure is desolate after two decades of neglect.

“My dad bought the store in 1953, and they sold it in 1985,” said Jackie Robinson, Jack and Adylee’s son and current Washington County deputy sheriff. “They mostly had general merchandise, plus animal feed, farm supplies, clothing, groceries, pretty much a little bit of everything. It was just an old-type general store.”

As Jack told The Sun, “If I didn’t have it, I could get it in three days.”

Before he bought the store, Jack was a farmer like his father before him. He traded his farm to Samuel Dean for ownership of the store, and the Robinsons stayed in business until they sold it in 1985.

“Daddy sold the store and the purchasers of the building tried to keep it running, but it just didn’t make it,” added Jackie.

“Everything has gone for bigger business,” Jack prophetically said in 1982. Keep in mind that the Robinsons’ store was located in a remote portion of the county, miles away from the nearest supermarket or department store. This was decades before Wal-Mart, when the neighborhood general store was the lifeline to the local residents. As time moved on, so did many of the residents, as they found work in neighboring communities or counties, and many moved away to be closer to schools and businesses.

Washington County resident George Masters, who lives across the road from the old building, recently purchased the property on which the store sits.

“I really have no plans for the store, I just bought it so I could have control of the property on the other side of the road too,” laughed Masters. “I was afraid somebody would get it and rent it out or something. I like to control all around me, and I just had the opportunity to buy it. That’s the first thing I see when I look out my front door.”

The store was originally located in Willisburg, but was moved by Myron McRay to its final spot in 1937. As former Springfield Sun editor John Bramel wrote in 1982, “It’s likely that it’ll never be moved again.”

As cars pass by on Route 53, the memories of life at the old Robinson store are just that – memories. The large porch still hosts the occasional visitor, although it’s more likely to be of the feline variety rather than elderly gentlemen engaged in a lively game of checkers or Rook. If only the store still had a fresh supply of milk.