While our modern-day headlines focus attention on the return of public dining as early as this weekend, our Throwback column is of a mind to take a closer at some of the area’s legendary grocery stores. In recent months, we’ve gotten a first-hand look at the dedicated efforts of today’s grocery store employees. Today, let’s take a few moments to commemorate their predecessors, beginning with O’Connell’s Supermarket, a downtown Jonesboro shopping landmark for nearly a century. In our first picture, we see Mr. Floyd O’Connell himself, serving a shopper in 1935.
Another popular grocery store in the Jonesboro section of Lee County three quarters of a century ago was fittingly called the Jonesboro Grocery Company. This operation was owned and managed by the Lloyd family. Patriarch W.F. Lloyd was the founder and chief manager. His sons Jack and Joe, also pictured here, assumed management after their father’s death.
While we’re ensconced in the 1930s and ’40s, let’s pay a visit to a Progressive Super Market grocery store. This local chain which operated several stores in Lee County truly lived up to its name. They were one of the first operators that promoted a new “self-service” approach to grocery shopping. This Progressive store was located on the corner of Charlotte Avenue and First Street.
Yet another grocery store in the area around this same time was the Wicker Cash Grocery store, owned and operated by Gunter Wicker. This store was located on McIver Street, right down the road from the nearby McIver School. In addition to typical grocery shoppers, this store was frequently populated by nearby students, who often dropped in to purchase snacks and school supplies.
Our final stop brings us to the present day location of the Sonic Drive-In on South Horner Boulevard. Until the middle of the 20th century, a sizable portion of families had an “icebox,” instead of an electric refrigerator. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Fields Fish, Oyster & Ice Company did a good business for many years by selling food and the ice that would keep it cold. Owned and operated by former Sanford Mayor E.W. Fields, the company stayed in business into the mid-1970s.
Editorial content, pictures and research background, compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All book proceeds go to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.