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Denton Community
Historical Society

Tales & Trails



By  Grace Damrow written about 2002
In the September 2005 issue of "Tales and Trails"

Our town was a fine small town with a population of about 108.  We all knew each other and said a friendly hello.  We called each one by their given name.

In our town stood a beautiful white church.  Beside the church stood a white house,  This was the parsonage, the home for the minister.  We also had a doctor in our town and a barber shop.  Our barber was Hazel, a friendly person.  Our music teacher was a real good teacher.  She taught you to appreciate good music.  Her  favorite words were "practice, practice".  At one time we had a dairy in Sprague.  The milk was bottled.  The milk trucks delivered the milk to the customers.

There was a tavern in our town and this was a really busy place.  There was a dance hall where we all had a lot of good times.  On dance night there always was a fight or two out on the street.  So they called the town marshal  This caused excitement.  South of the tavern was a garage.  Here you could buy gas and have your car serviced. Let me tell you at these gas pumps you pumped the gas by hand.

No town is complete without a post office  Our postmaster had to go to the depot and carry the mail sack over his shoulder back to the post office.  He also had to carry the mail to the depot. There was a hardware store run by a man named, John.  There was a lumber yard and elevator in our town.

This town I am writing about was as complete as you could want.  Only for a grocery store.  You knew I was leading up to that important thing.

The year 1931, I don't remember the day or month, my Dad, Charley Krull, said to me, "Grace, come here in the kitchen.  I want to talk to you".  I thought what in the world did I do wrong now?  Dad said "Sit down by the table".   By this time I was a nervous wreck.  He said, "If I start a grocery store, would you help after school and on weekends?"  I am the oldest of three children.  When Dad asked me this, I was really proud.

We rented the south half of the hardware store building to start our grocery store.  Dad worked hard and many fiends helped us.  Oh! I believe we had to have a counter and shelves built.  Dad got busy and made these. I think this is interesting.  The meat block on which we cut meat was made of a large round block of wood cut out of our own timber  The bark was peeled and then sanded to finish it off..  He built legs to put under it.

Our cash register was a drawer placed under the counter.  This had dividers in it for the bills and the change.

The day before our big adventure we all worked hard stocking the shelves and getting all ready for the next day.  Our friends helped our family with this all.

The next morning was exciting as we were in business, and our town had a grocery store, "Krull's Cash Store".  I liked the tone of that.  In this day and age we wrote the list of grocery items on a pad, then put up each item for our customers.

In the county store we bought eggs, live chickens and cream as this was a way people paid for their groceries by trading these items to us for their groceries.

Talk about 57 varieties--Krull's Cash Store had them. Dad told me the customer is always right, even if they are wrong.  Each one is an individual in his or her own right and must be treated as such.

Everyone who came helped to make our day.  In the store we had a heating stove, and in it we burned coal.  Near this stove stood a card table.  On it was a checker board and a set of dominoes.  These games would go on all day by the men of the town who enjoyed passing time this way.

I will never forget my first mistake.  I sold two boxes of Jell-O for 20 cents instead of 10 cents.  We sold the Jell-O for 5 cents a box. This is just one of the many mistakes this kid Grace made through her grocery store business experience.

Would you believe if we made 2 cents on a can of green beans, that was good.

Krull's Cash Store charged groceries and folks paid us every two weeks or once a month of otherwise when they could. I well remember folks bringing in a 12 dozen case of eggs at 8 cents a dozen, equaled 96 cents.  They bought just what they needed and that was it!  There were many time we put up their order, if it came to more than they could pay for they chose the items they really needed.

When you read this you will not believe navy beans were 5 pounds for 25 cents, powdered sugar 5 cents a pound, and bread 10 cents a loaf.  Kids could buy pop for 5 cents a bottle and gum 5 cents a package.  Ice cream cones for 5 cents.  Also they could buy a penny's work of candy.  All these various items and many more were sold in the bulk, even lard and oysters  Ever since this I am no friend of the oyster.

Dad and I worked well together.  I enjoyed the grocery business.

Charley sent many sacks of candy home to the children of families who never bought candy because it was not a needed item. He gave flour and yeast foam to families who were in dire need of food.

Dad and I checked on a family one day and found out they were eating hominy.  The mother went out at night and took corn from peoples corn fields and made hominy.  That is all they had to eat.  You guessed it, we went up to the store and got navy beans, soup bones and other foods for them.  This is the mission work my dad believe in, home mission. At this time my sister, Frances began to work a lot of time at the store.  I was happy about that.

We had a lady in town named Helen.  She read the newspaper out under the street light at night  She played the harmonica and she would come uptown and play her harmonica.  She raised beautiful flowers.  When I would go to my Grandmother's house, Helen always gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the summer time.

I loved to play my game of memories of people who came to our store.  i remember Grandpa Lamb.  He wore copper bands on his wrists for rheumatism.  He liked to speak of the old times.

There was Grandpa Willmann.  He was so very interesting to talk with.  How well I recall the little basket he carved for me out of a peach seed.  He made me my first pair of stilts.  We kids all loved to walk on them.

Every other Saturday when one of our customers was able she brought me some delicious kolaches.

I have a what-not-shelf in my home that is made from a piece of walnut lumber from Arnold's timber.  He wanted me to have this because he said I treated him nice and always spoke to him.

A man named John, who was a short-built man, bought his overalls three sizes too big because he got more for his money that way.  He came to the store and always bought a large size sack of Corn Cake tobacco and a large box of Kellogg's corn flakes.  He drove a Model A. Ford.

Grandma Spellman was so interesting to visit with.  She would tell of their adventures with Indians and of pioneers.

I can just hear our sons say, "Mom" when they read this part of the story.  This cannot be.

We had a good customer named Ernest who drove a spring wagon with two horses to town every two weeks to get the groceries.  I almost forgot to tell you we had a hitching post to accommodate the ones who drove horses.  Well, Ernest would tie his horses here.

Then there was Alice.  She drove a horse and buggy to town once in a great while.  She would always holler, "Charley, come tie up my horse"  So Dad would go do this.  Alice always wore a coat summer and winter  She here she comes, got a chair to set on and takes off her coat.  She always sat by the shell peanut basket.  She ate all the peanuts she wanted, putting the shells on the floor.  Then we swept up after Alice.  She would buy her groceries, Dad untied her horse and she would take off for home.

We had all kinds of experiences.  One day I was running the store alone.  Dad had gone to Lincoln for supplies.  The hardware man had gone to lunch.  I was waiting on a customer and a strange man came in.  He said he was a tobacco salesman.  I thought this was strange for we had a regular salesman who we bought from. When I opened the cash register drawer to give my customer change this man looked in the drawer.  The customer left.  The salesman asked if I would buy something from him.  I said "No, not today".  Remember I was alone in the store.  He said, "I will be back.  I will leave something and see that I get my money."  He left and went to the tavern.  I thought I can't let him get Dad's money.  He parked his car on the south side of the street. (Now this kid is playing detective)  I was so frightened, I took a ladder because the window was high up.  I climbed up the ladder, took his car license number and hid it.  Then I took most of the money out of the cash register put it in a paper bag and hid it in the cocoa bin.

In the meantime that hardware man came back from lunch.  I told him what happened.  He hid behind the counter.  Here comes the salesman.  He said, "Well, girlie, I am back.  Remember what I said."  The hardware man who was a large built man, raised up from behind the counter and asked "What did you want?"  The man left right then.  By that time I really was shaking.

Oh! I have to tell you about the "gypsies".  They came to town in cars and also in wagons drawn by horses. The women always were the ones who came to the stores  Always dressed in their bright colors and loads of jewelry.  They came in and asked for sugar, navy beans and such things.  If we gave it to them, they wished up good luck . If not they wished us bad luck.  If toys were on the ground in the yard by your house they just picked them up and took them.  Sometimes they would park down by the lumber yard.  It was an exciting time and kind of scary too.

Now comes a time for us to move into a building of our own.  It was just across the street, and that was a big job.  Here comes our faithful friends to help.  Yup! We got the job done.  Guess what!  The old stove that burned the coal, the card table, checkers and dominoes went right with us.

The move, our family felt was and advancement.  Here we go--we added men's work shoes, work shirts, overalls and straw hats.  We even sold ladies bonnets as most all the ladies wore them.

A drug store (sorta).Everything we carried in our drug department seemed to cure what people had.  Hours we kept were long.  We worked hard.  The meat grinder we had, we turned by hand, and I believe everyone ate ground beef.  Deliveries were made by Dad to the farms during the threshing time-up at 4 A.M. mornings that rang in our minds.  My  sister, Frances and I learned to cut all cuts of meat, such as steaks and roasts.  Until we got the hang of how to do this we at home ate good, as all our mistakes went home.

Our brother, Charles, was quite young at this time.  Our town Sprague was not a quiet town.  There was a town pump where you could pump out the coldest water for water fights and we kids had them. We had fun.  The town kids never destroyed anything. There was fun in our town on Halloween--soaping windows Somehow the little back houses with the half moon shaped windows got upset.  Just caused people a little extra work.

Saturday nights our town had free movies.  The business men of the town sponsored these, and Krull's store was happy to be one of them.  The town was crowded on these night  Movies were good too.  Tom Mix and all the good ones were in them.

The businessmen of our town also sponsored "Donkey Ball" games.  You played baseball.  You got to hit the ball, jump on a donkey and ride to the bases.  A good way to let off steam, have a good laugh and scream your head off.

East of Sprague was a lake called "Crystal Lake".  Here we swam in the summer.  Also went boating in a b oat you powered yourself with two oars, up the lake and also back.  Winter found us ice skating.  It was fun even if you couldn't stand up.  Irene and Charles Krull's home was a good place to go afterward for hot chocolate and cookies.  Our church had many good things going on, soup suppers, pancake feed and any other interesting things.

In 1939 I got married so then Frances had it to do.  I would help at the store when I could.  There was something about this business I really liked.  So I'd go back and help when they needed extra help.  Frances worked in the store until she got married.   Krull's Cash Store seemed to be family run and now it was our brother Charles and Mother who helped run the business. About this time came World War ll.  This really changed everyone's life.  Our brother went to service.  We all worked together and Dad also hired extra help.  Charles came home from the service.

Mother and Dad loved to travel.  It was time for our brother to run the store.  He did for a time and then Dad sold the store.  That was sure an empty feeling.  The end of the Krull's Cash Store. The memories still carry on. 

Our folks lived in Sprague in the white house at the end of the block on Market Street for many years.  They traveled until they felt that their years were many, so they didn't go far too often.  They had a full life and many friends.

I wrote this for our two sons and their families.  I ask you to take time to read it and remember all the good times and all the good things we had and did together.

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Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska