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 Texas : Towns A-Z / Texas Panhandle :

The Jot ‘um Down Store in Oplin, Texas

Interview Conducted by Gerald Massey
Photos Courtesy Gerald Massey
Oplin Texas - Jot-Um-Down Store
The Jot-Um-Down Store, Oplin, Texas
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
This postcard-worthy gem was discovered recently by Gerald “Icebreaker” Massey on a recent run from Shreveport, Louisiana to Ft. Griffin, Texas.

The Jot ‘um Down Store could easily pass for a movie location – and with the crowd control problem out of the picture – it may yet become the set on some future project. Tender Lions or Second-hand Mercies. Now that Robert Duval has announced his retirement, he may want to come to his favorite state, just to sit on the porch here and whittle Mesquite clothespins.

The fairy-tale emporium has all of the once-mandatory accessories (newspaper rack, ice bin, Coke machine and elevated but un-level porch). The only thing missing is a hound under the porch – or a cat blocking the door. But the presence of a root / storm shelter nearly makes up for animal absence.
Oplin TX - Store Interior
Store Interior
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Gerald entered the store and found Vera Owens, proprietress, sitting beside the register facing the door – ready to fire up the grill at a moment’s notice. After taking a few interior shots to see if it’s utilitarian charm matched the exterior (it did), Gerald asked Vera a few questions.

Unfortunately, the digital recorder didn’t work and Gerald was forced to call Ms. Owens after he returned home for a telephone interview, asking many of the questions twice. Therefore, we thank Vera twice for her patience and for sharing the story of the Jot ‘um Down Store with our readers.

The Interview >
Oplin TX - Store owner Vera Owen
Store owner Vera Owen
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
The Interview

Vera Owens, store owner, widow and mother of three daughters.
(Mr. Owens passed away three years ago in November of 2007.)

GM: Where were you born?
Ms. Owens:  Clyde Texas, but I lived in California for 26-years and worked there in a Borax plant. (Clyde is 21 miles north of Oplin.)

GM:  How did you come to own the Jot ‘um Down Store?
Ms. Owens: “My husband delivered water here and the previous owner asked him if he wanted to buy it. We hemmed and hawed but bought it in 1983 or 84.”

GM: What sort of traffic do you get here?
Ms. Owens: “Don’t get very much business.”

GM: Do you have a special recipe for your hamburgers?
Ms. Owens: “No, I toast the buns and I use lettuce and tomato, onions and pickles, salt and pepper.”

GM: Any other recipies?
Ms. Owens: “Yes, but I don’t tell nobody.”

GM: What’s the nicest thing anyone ever said about your cooking?
Ms. Owens: “That it was the best hamburger they ever ate.”

GM: How did you meet your husband and where did you go on your honeymoon?
Ms. Owens: “I met him on a frog hunt. We didn’t go on a honeymoon. They didn’t have honeymoons back when we were married.”

GM: Where would you live if you didn’t live in Texas?
Ms. Owens: “Probably Washington State.”

GM: What do you keep in the storm cellar outside?
Ms. Owens: “Nothing now, but we used to keep carrots and peaches in case we had a storm.”

GM: Do you have a particular memory of a Texas trip?
Ms. Owens: “We once went to Salt Lake City, Utah. We got stuck out there on the Great Salt Lake flats.  We didn’t know what those potholes were, but we soon found out. We sat there a little bit and we sank. We liked to have never got out of there.”

GM: Do you have any advice for people in their 20s?
Ms. Owens: “Live your lives the fullest, enjoy yourselves, go to church, and give your heart and life to God.”
Oplin TX  Store -  Bank Vault
The former bank vault
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Oplin Texas Store - Storm Cellar
Storm Cellar (left of photo)
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Oplin TX - Store Interior
Interior with Vera
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
Oplin Texas - Jot-Um-Down Store
A parting shot
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, June 2010
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