Thursday, November 4, 2010
Darlene's Grocery Store to close in Jerome
Unidentified Early 1970s Newspaper Article
By Ione LeMay
Jerome will soon be joining many other small towns that are without a grocery store or gasoline station because Mrs. Marvelle (Darlene) McElvain will be closing the doors to her store and gas station there next week to retire.
Mrs. McElvain is leaving her business with mixed feelings. She regrets leaving a town filled with mostly Senior Citizens without a store where they can pick up groceries and personal items but, yet, she is looking forward to catching up on her housework and rest. She said, "The older people hate to see me go but I kind of got tired and I have other things to do." Not only will the older people miss a store close by but they will also miss the deliveries she made to them when it was cold or they were ill.
Mrs. Marvelle (Darlene) McElvain
When Mrs. McElvain opened her store and station in Jerome 6 1/2 years ago she did so because, "I just thought it would be nice to start one." At that time there wasn't any grocery store in Jerome.
She purchased the building where she is now located from Frank Zemo. Since then she has added two more buildings to the first one for additional storage space.
Mrs. McElvain ran the store by herself six days a week from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. with occasional help from her son. On Sunday Mr. McElvain, who is a farmer and trucker, operated the store.
Her stock included groceries, hardware, salt, dog food, plastic ware and many other items. To add to their supplies Mr. and Mrs. McElvain would travel to grocery store close out sales near and far and would bring back items which "We put a price on it to move it quick."
Running her own store and station was a first time experience for Mrs. McElvain. For three years before she was married she worked in the Ottumwa Hospital and later took more nurse's aid courses in Centerville but she had never worked in a store.
Did she mind pumping gas? "No-o-," she said, "I didn't mind it. I generally wear insulated underwear and trudge right on. On a cold morning it gets kind of drafty."
How did her husband feel about her running her own business? "He don't mind too bad. He's about as good a cook as I am. A lot of times when I go home he will have his favorite raspberry pie, corn bread and beans fixed."
One of the things Mrs. McElvain will be spending her time doing after she closes her store will be working with her 4-H girls. She has been a 4-H leader for 15 years. She says of her 4-H Club, the Lincoln Luckies, "We're small but we're mighty."
The McElvain family have all been active in 4-H. Mr. McElvain is a leader of a boy's 4-H Club. Daughter Jane Ann, now Mrs. Bill Mahon, was in 4-H for nine years and son Bob, who is a Junior in Centerville High School, has been in 4-H for nine years and is still a member.
Mrs. McElvain believes that youngsters should be started in 4-H young because, "They're all eager beavers and enthusiastic when they are young."
What other plans does Mrs. McElvain have for when she retires from her store? "I tell them that I am going home and sit under a shade tree," she said with a laugh. But she admits it would be a little cool for that right now. She does plan on catching up on her housework and helping more with the Suffolk sheep they raise. "I enjoy them," she said. She also hopes they will be able to get away on a vacation and spend more time at the fairs. "I love all fairs," she explained.
"There was a time I had a lot of hobbies," Mrs. McElvain said. But she hasn't had time to keep up with them since she started operating her own store. She does find time though to belong to the 4-H Extension Council and the Federated Club.
Many of Mrs. McElvain's customers are telling her, "You go home rest, re-decorate and come back to us." But right now her plans are to sell her store and station. She said, "If I don't get it sold I am just going to close up and have an auction in the spring."
So once again Jerome will be without any stores.
The editor sincerely appreciates the contribution of the above article to The Jerome Journal by Mrs. Jane Ann (Bill) Mahon.