Durham's Market!
Circa 1960!
Photo by ddd.
Stat by jrd on 2/12/04.

Durham Market in Rockport Kentucky.

Picture of Store Front of Durham's Market as it exists today.  Hum, the old building does not look bad......

This will be the last of a series about Groceries that operated in Rockport during the middle of the twentieth century.  This series consisted of a small write up about groceries operated by Mrs. Kevil, Shim, Jamie, Thelma and now Martin Durham.  There were other groceries in this area, during this period of time, but they were either short-lived or were located outside the confines of Rockport.  Echols had a few groceries that someone could expound on for several series and they included groceries that were owned and operated by Cundiff, Boone, Jones, Robinson and Burden among others.  I have no intentions of leaving anyone out or not naming a certain grocery or owner/operator, but this list is just what I am more familiar with and what comes to mind at the moment. 

Please be advised that the following paragraphs contain only ideas and memories from the old data bank of my brain.  In no way is it intended to be a factual presentation of any event.  Names, and especially dates, may be incorrect and any input from the reader would be appreciated.  The idea and the subsequent writings are just something to give an old retiree something to do on wintry days like today.  If you have time and want to journey down your memory lane of older times, maybe some of these memories of mine will jolt your mind and place you in a pleasant situation for a few minutes.   For some of you there may be a sad recollection.  In any event, if you are still here, thanks for reading and looking.  For those that have no desire to think of the past, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.  Thanks for looking.....

Durham's Market was started by Martin and Alma Durham and was operated from the mid fifties to the early seventies.  It started out as a "Quick Pic" type place with emphasis on being a gas station.  It evolved to a full service garage and then to a complete grocery store.  My brother John, and I were the first two employees.  This was mainly with the original service station and I worked only a short period of time.  John continued for a longer period of time. Later my sister and her husband worked the complete store for a year or so.......

Strange as it may seem, I know less about this store than of the others.  While Martin and Alma Durham were growing the place, I was trying to become established in my own field.  This included working for GE in Louisville for two years, then serving in the Air Force for four years and four months.  Then I worked at Ken Strip Mine for a year and then started to work for TVA in August of 1963.  Likewise, my brother was trying to determine his working fate and starting out in the banking business with the Beaver Dam Deposit Bank, a few years in the Army and then traveling to Joliet, IL for his working career with GE.  Judy and Donnie Lanier, did much the same and when Donnie got a chance to go back home and work for Jackson Purchase Rural Electric Co Op, they moved to Paducah. 

During this period of American History and until the nineties, a person could spend his working career with the same company.  Not only that, in many cases, a son or daughter could start out with a company that parent(s) retired from and expect to be there until retirement.  Most companies provided full retirement benefits.  Not so anymore.  With IRA's, stocks and bonds, and annuities, among others, a person can no longer expect a pension from a company.  I spent over forty years with TVA and still working on a part time basis.  John spent nearly that long with GE and Judy and Donnie had a similar career.

Martin and Alma Durham helped provide a career for a few people.  Roberta Smith, as mentioned earlier, spent a career with Shim and Jamie. While there was no pension, this type work was an added bonus to the family that, in many cases, had another main breadwinner.  Yes, now it was both family members, husband and wife, working to provide for the family.  Where a simple life once existed, it now took the income of two family members to provide a means to keep up with the other families that had two working family members.

Durham's Market, over its' span of  operation, employed more people than any other similar market.  As mentioned earlier, some clerks stayed for several years and others only a short period of time.  Roberta Smith, probably worked longer as a clerk than any other clerk in the Rockport area.  Anna Katherine Decker, Judy Dortch, Wangola Blackburn, Katharine Blackburn,  and Dorothy Harris Doss are a few Durham Market employees that come to mind as working more than just a few months.  Martine Everly worked just a short stint.  These employees worked the grocery store part.  Mr. and Mrs. Frank Williams were long time employees.  Frank was the garage mechanic and his wife, Nina was a clerk.  Alva Scott, Tex Minton and a Farris or two were several mechanics that were from Echols.  Many other good mechanics spent time in the two bay garage.  Charles Geary work as a mechanic in the early years of the store.  The "Twins" were short time garage mechanics and a person could write a book on these two.  Freddie and Stevie Wilkerson were good mechanics, but were young and play time exceeded work time.  Those two caused the old store owner a few gray hairs.  I am sure that I have left out some key employees and for this, I offer an apology in advance.  Come on back at me if you know of a person that spent more than a few months working at Durham's Market.  There was another main mechanic that comes to mind, but I can not put a name to the face.....

Martin Durham allowed the "Twins" to get away with pranks and other things that was not permitted to most other employees.  He liked these two, but could not tell one from the other as they not only looked alike, they acted alike.  One particular story comes to mind when these two characters are mentioned.  Martin Durham was very reasonable with some benefits, although he watched his income and outgo.  A lunch was provided to the employee as well as snacks and drinks.  All that a mechanic had to do was pick up or order what they wanted to eat and there was not much of a limit.  Many a time, one of the twins would be working, eat his lunch, and the other twin would show up at the garage.  The non-working twin would then go to the store part and order his lunch.  After eating, one of the twins would leave and the one that was left was the mechanic for the time.  They go so brazen that they had more fun pulling this stint when Martin Durham was there instead of when he was gone.  Many a time, Martin would question the second twin after he ordered his sandwich.  "Haven't you had enough to eat" or "Are you eating all of you meals here" were questions that the "Twins" heard more than once.  Suspect that Martin may have caught on, but never let on that he knew. 

Durham's Market, for several years, was the place to shop and the place to get a car serviced or repaired.  Not only the people of Rockport enjoyed going there, this store had customers from Echols, McHenry, Martwick and Nelson.  Even some customers came from Beaver Dam and Central City.  Time is eternity, but grocers are for real.  They tend to last depending on two main factors and that includes their ability to continue to attract customers and how long they can retard their age factor.  Shim, Jamie, Pete and Thelma, as well as Martin were all good retailers and were customer driven, but no one has ever truly found that "Fountain of Youth" and thus, all eventually had to step down.  I think that Pete is the only one that is still alive.  May they all find that great "Grocery Store" in the sky.

Again, thanks for looking and reading.  Hope that you found the item worth spending your valuable time on.  This series of "Groceries" will end with this stat.  I have pictures of some area "Restaurants" of the past and a few pictures of the old Rockport Depot.  If anyone would be interested in using any of these pictures for any type of a "Write-up",  feel free to let me know.  Bill Tooley, Johnny Welborn, Fat Mammie,  H. T. Kennedy and Thomas and Dorothy Harris are just a few people that ran restaurants in this same time frame.

  This winter season is about over and I don't think there is that much of a demand for my work in this area.  Thus, for the time being, I am out of here.  Have a good day.

See you.....



Stationery by jrd with thanks to Janice for script.

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