U.S. Highway 78 (Bankhead Highway) was once the main the east/west route between Charleston North Carolina, Atlanta Georgia, Birmingham Alabama and Memphis Tennessee. Since 1926 the 715 miles of highway has brought travelers, including the Freedom Riders buses in the early 60’s, through Douglas County following the Georgia Pacific Rail Road.
According to an old gentleman (whose name I can not recall), who lived in the little house next to the Lithia Springs Methodist Church, in the 1930’s he helped to pave the two lane highway from Atlanta to the Alabama line. He told me how they hand mixed concrete and poured it by hand. The paving project was a federal public works project designed to put American to work during the Great Depression.
At some time in the 20’s or 30’s a store was built along the highway in Lithia Springs. We know it as D.W. Bennett Grocery and Meats (Bennett’s Store). In September 1944 D.W and his wife Lillian moved to Lithia Springs from Atlanta and bought the store from Thad Kilgore. The Bennetts sold gas, sodas, candy and other provisions including homemade sausage made from the pigs raised by the Bennetts.
Locals will remember the black 1950 Ford that sat under the store porch for decades. Some say that after Mr. Bennett’s death the car was left parked where D.W. had left it.
My earliest memories of the store were in the 1960’s. Being located just down the street for Annette Winn School, after school I would make my way to the store to buy peppermint candy that was always in stock in the large glass jar on the counter. On occasions Ms. Bennett would give away penny candy to kids who had no money. Sometimes, that meant me.
A lot has changed at the Bennett Store. The Bennetts have passed away. The weeds have grown into trees. The Colonial Bread double doors have been removed. The store signs are missing and the old Ford is long gone. The tin roof has been damaged by the winds allowing the rain to penetrate and some windows are broken, but the building is still standing. The only ones in attendance are the buzzards keeping watch over the store.
Do you have any memories of the Bennett Store? I’d like to hear about them.