|Store Has Flavor of Yesterday
HEYEN GENERAL STORE AT LANGWORTHY
by Walt Carsiena
|LANGWORTHY—Gone are the cracker and apple barrels, the boxes of dried fruits, even the cat; but the pot-bellied stove remains, nostalgic of bygone days of the country store.
This particular pot-bellied stove has a prominent place in a country-type store—the Heyen General Store at Langworthy. With it come all the accoutrements of the "golden" days: The circle of chairs, the chunks of stove wood, the checker-board.
A single light bulb on a drop cord descending from the ceiling lights the scene for the occasional game of checkers, or for a "warming-up" after being cut in the cold.
Gone, too, is the cuspidor. "They aren't the marksmen they used to be!" explains Clarence Heyen, the proprietor.
The building, with merchandising on the ground floor and housing on the second, was built, according to local belief, shortly after the founding of Langworthy. This village, four miles south of Monticello on highway 151, was laid out and platted by Col. W. T. Shaw in 1858.
Local residents claim that Peter G. Bonewitz erected the Heyen store to provide quarters that were larger than his first store on the other side of the road. This first store also is thought to have been the first in the village.
Over 90 Years Old
Other proprietors of the store, excluding the present one were: William Adams, Charles H. Rastede, Christopher and Henry Scheer and John Heyen. John Heyen was the father of the present owner.
The Heyen interests gained control of the store about 65 years ago, when John Heyen, holding a part interest in the Scheer partnership, purchased the remaining Scheer equity.
The building, originally 28 by 60 feet, was lengthened by the elder Heyen to 100 feet in 1910 The second floor remained as housing quarters and contains 13 rooms. The extension, connected to the main store by a double door, housed dry goods, ready-to-wear, crockery and glassware.
The dry goods consisted of bolts of yard goods displayed at an angle on shelves for better viewing by prospective purchasers. Ready-to-wear included standard items of apparel.
The present proprietor, Clarence Heyen, assumed ownership in 1932, when his father retired. The store dealt in groceries, dry goods, crockery and glassware, hardware, coal, feed, farm implements and gasoline and allied products. The post office also was housed in this building until about 1930.
A quick trip through the display of merchandise still reveals a vastness of stock, some of which harkens back to country store days. However, all groceries now come packed or boxed in measured quantities. About the only item left for bulk purchase are cheese, slabs of bacon, and casings of summer sausage.
The back room has been taken over by storage, and contains a nondescript array of new and outmoded merchandise. The front room is primarily devoted to groceries; however, the grocery counter runs smack into bins filled with pipe fittings.
Listed among Heyen's best assets are two customers who have traded with him for more than 60 years. They are John H. and Thomas H. Folkers. 70 and 73 years old, respectively, and both bachelor farmers who can remember when their parents traded at the Heyen store. They recalled that on Saturday afternoons the store looked like a bargain day or "pork lift."
Heyen's most amusing experience happened in the implement division. He had delivered a farm implement and when it came time to make settlement, the purchaser traded in a cat on the deal. When the deal was consummated, Heyen left with a Persian cat and $2.40 less than the purchase price. However, on the way home, he sold the cat for $2.50.
Other businesses in Langworthy include a creamery, a large ready-mix plant and a tavern. The post office is located in the postmaster's home.
From The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, January 1, 1956, and submitted by Sharon Oltmanns
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