Ira D. Walrath Store, De Kalb Junction
by Floyd Walrath
One time when Dad was a boy of 9 or 10 years, he used to ride with his father to DePeyster Comers to trade. This was way back around 1872. Mr. Millard C. Mason ran the store, and Dad thought running a store was a great piece of business, and it was right here which gave Dad the impression that some day he would have a store of his own when he got big. Another thing which Dad noticed in particular, was how Mr. Mason combed his hair always leaving a little curl way up on top of his head and Dad thought this curl made him look lovely, so he followed the style down through the years to his last. How queer it seems that some of these young folks will want to copy funny ideas from some one else, you never can tell what they are thinking of.
So when the day had come, Dad started in the store business over by the railroad tracks. It was a good location. He was honest, always paid his bills, was exacting and friendly, and everyone [who] traded with him liked him. Mother was a good cook and baker, would make five or six dozen cookies and doughnuts so Dad would carry them to the store in a large market basket the next morning.
Mr. Miner of Marshville, above Hermon, a sign painter, painted a large board about ten feet long by 12 or 14 inches in width reading something like this, "Fruit and Groceries and Lunches". Dad had this sign put up quite high where it could be noticed quite a distance. This attracted especially the railroad men and those who had to wait for trains would come over and purchase homemade cookies and doughnuts and milk and fruit. The Railroad men liked Dad and of course at that time [he] was young and would joke and laugh and visit with the fellows, and that was what they enjoyed.
We kept a cow and took a lot of her milk to the store and sold it with the lunches. During the last two years while the store stood by the railroad tracks, Mother would make ice cream. This was served upstairs over the store at a long table with chairs. Mother would scoop up the ice cream and put it in beautiful green dishes with crackers. The boys and girls and grownups too would flock upstairs nearly every night for ice cream, perhaps a doughnut or a cookie to go with it. I can well remember the boys eating smoked herrings with crackers. We were the first people in the village to sell ice cream. Mother took over the task of handling the ice cream business.
It was because Dad was doing a good business in selling cold lunches that caused the Hurley's to serve notice on Hemenway to get that building off the premises as soon as the lease expired. Hurley's thought their business was going to be wrecked in this lunch business. They put restrictions on the land prohibiting the sale of hot lunches. The restrictions will now expire in just a few years as I understand.