Anderson Family History

Introduction: Center, South Dakota Store

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Cousin Merland Howe recalled the following in 2000:

Nineteen-thirty must have been a very good year. First, it was the year of my birth in a South Dakota farmhouse seven miles north of Salem and three miles east. January 6th was the date, and I joined my mother, Mayme; my dad, Ben; and two brothers, Laurel who was then eight and Lyle, who was six. We were not on this farm-place more than a few months after my birth before making the one-mile move west to the community of Center.

Center was a very rural community consisting of the store (more about this later); a Lutheran Church; a schoolhouse; homes of a trucker; re a carpenter; a parsonage for the minister of the church; and three farmsteads that were all within a radius of about one-fourth of a mile from the store. If you branched out to a two mile radius, there must have been another dozen or two farmsteads around.

In the twenties, there had been a Center Store, but in 1928, it burned to the ground and was not rebuilt by its owner. This made a big gap in the community and so Ben and Mayme decided to get into the country store business. Six miles east of Center stood a wooden frame building known as the Ramsey Hall. It was a community hall that held meetings and occasional dances for the neighbors in that area. The Ramsey Hall was for sale and my folks purchased the building and had it moved west to Center. They had purchased one acre of ground on the southwest corner of the intersection just west of the church and north of the school. This became the new Center Store.

I don’t know its exact dimensions but I believe the building was about 28 feet wide and perhaps 44 feet long. It was partitioned in half so the front 28 x 22 became the store and the remaining part was turned into living quarters. The building was quite high in the middle so a second floor area was put in over just the living area. A small sunporch was added on the north side of the livingroom. This, plus a small kitchen & pantry, a dining room and one bedroom made up the main floor. Upstairs was more of a loft area with two bedrooms and a large open area used for storage. There also was a basement under the living quarters. It was accessed by a stairway that could be entered either from the kitchen or from the store.

Later years brought an addition of approx. 12 x 16 to the south side of the store and was used as storage and a cream and egg station. There was another shed, or small barn located near the south edge of the acre that had multiple uses. At various times it held a cow, some chickens, a car and whatever else needed some shelter.

One other building that had several different locations on the acre was the outhouse. It always seemed to be located far away from the house in the winter when you had to go to it in the bitter cold, and too close to the house in the summer when your sense of smell could guide you to its current location.

A cistern had been dug beside the living quarters and it provided our water. Rain gutters along the large roof kept the cistern in water most of the time, but I believe water had to be hauled in from time to time during some of the prolonged dry spells.

A large coal furnace stood in one corner of the store and there was a room heater in the dining room that provided heat for the living quarters. A round kerosene burner heater was used in the upstairs area and had little effect on keeping things warm. There was a bottle-gas cook stove in the small kitchen, and in the basement there stood a large cast-iron cookstove that Mother used for boiling water for washing clothes. She also used it to do a large amount of canning for our family. We always had a garden that provided a substantial amount of our food at Center.

So, 1930 saw the birth of both the Center Store and myself, and we sort of grew up together. At least until 1940 when we moved into the town of Salem where my dad started his career in county politics being elected the McCook county Auditor. The store was then rented out to a succession of tenants and was finally sold. But those first ten years of my life at Center holds a lot of memories. I will attempt to briefly tell about some of those memories, in no particular order, on the following pages and hope you will find them interesting.

By Merland D. Howe, 2000.



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