J. Carnahan Smith Store, General Merchandise, Barlow (1/17)

BY ELSIE MOREY / January 2017

J. Carnahan Smith purchased a store from John Black who had run the Barlow Store from 1913-1915. He called his store the J. Carnahan Smith Store, General Merchandise, Barlow, and ran it from 1915-1939. A popular store for many Cumberland Township residents

According to J.P. Geiselman in his Reflections (1996, p216), the daily procedure began by unlocking the gas pumps and the three barrels of different grades of oil. The gas sold was first Texaco brand, but it later became Atlantic gas and oil. Near the oil drums were handles to pump out the needed oil and one-half pint and quart measuring devices.

Geiselman begins the description of the store, which had a pot-bellied stove, candy, a cheese box, and cans of spices, coffee grinder, a molasses barrel, and a string holder hanging from the ceiling and a paper cutter with a wide roll of paper on it.

When you entered the store, a ringing bell would alert the Smith’s that someone was there. The visitor would find that counters extended three quarters of the way back. On one counter was a glass case which contained lace, ribbons and bows, items a milliner might use. Farther along was another glass show case which contained all kinds of yarn, another held varieties of thread and still another women’s underwear and stockings of all sizes. On top of this would be stacks of men’s shirts and coveralls of assorted sizes.

Smith’s had a wire running part way on the ceiling which had many styles of gloves hanging from it; the boxes of gloves were on the counter. Farther back on the counter were boots and shoes in several sizes. In yet another area on the counter one would find a cabinet filled with cigars on many kinds and wicks for the oil lamps.

The scales used to measure out items as sugar, spices and flour sat on yet another counter. Also prominent was the “goody” showcase with all kinds of candies within. One would find watches, thimbles, slate, pencils, button cards, pocketknives, needles, safety pins in still another cabinet.

Farther back on the counter one would find bolts, cotter pins, washers of many sizes, hunting supplies fishing line, rivets and the rivet machine. Nearby would be the carbide lights for buggies, lamps, globes and stove pipe. At the back of the store were the 25 pigeon holes where the families received their mail at the Barlow Post Office.

Located at the back of the store was another small room called the wareroom. The wareroom would have been the stock room holding the vinegar barrel, spices, lamps, globes, shovels, mattocks, picks, corn choppers, hoes, rakes, corn brooms, extra horse collars and reins. From the wareroom there was a door which led outdoors to a porch with several levels and the loading dock. The produce and groceries for the store were unloaded here. At the corner of the porch was a pole with an oil lamp on top which was lit each evening

Mr. Smith also had a huckster business and would take his covered wagon pulled by two horses, with the store name, J. Carnahan Smith, General Merchandise, Barlow, PA. painted on the sides, to trade or purchase with the farmers for eggs, butter, calves or chickens.

The store was always closed on Sundays but if a motorist would run out of gas, Mr. Smith would unlock the pump and help the stranded motorist by taking the gas to their car.

Elsie D. Morey is chairman of the board of directors, CTHS.