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Archive for Sunday, May 26, 1996

THE CLINTON STORE IS ONLY GAME IN TOWN

May 26, 1996

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Memorial Day weekend keeps the little convenience store busy with Clinton Lake visitors.

Memorial Day weekend means big business for the only store in the town of Clinton, The Clinton Store, 598 N. 1190 Rd.

"It's been chaotic," said store manager Marilyn Stone, during Saturday morning's business hours.

"I was anticipating even more chaos if it wasn't a moody morning with the fog -- the weather plays a big part."

Located about a mile and a half from Clinton Lake's Bloomington Beach area, the store serves as a last chance stop for lake visitors and fishermen for food and fuel.

"Yeah, I was about out of gas," said Manhattan resident Brandon Heath. "I knew this one was here, and I was low on gas, and I didn't want to turn around to go get gas somewhere else."

While the 400-gallon barrel of unleaded fuel feeding the single gas pump in front of The Clinton Store is no comparison to a Phillips 66, the history of the store is what makes it unique.

"In 1917, a tornado went through there and knocked out a bunch of stuff, but I think there was a store there before that in the 1800's," said store owner Dr. Michael Well. Well bought the store in 1977.

"We figured out that the store has been here since about 1931."

Well said Henry Heinie had owned the first property deed in 1864, which was later sold to Maggie Woodard.

Woodard sold the deed to the Clinton Council No. 167 of the FAA in 1869.

When Clinton residents Clarence and Iola Anderson purchased The Clinton Store in 1954, it served as more than the town's general store.

The store -- which also served as the Andersons' home -- had Clinton's city baseball diamond in the back yard.

"They (the Andersons) used to serve soda pop and hot dogs out of the washroom," Stone said. "I can faintly remember coming out here and buying sodas and popcorn at the ball games."

Today, the only object out in center field is a satellite dish connected to the television set inside the store.

Stone said an ongoing renovation has helped to improve the store. This year's addition included a new door and central air conditioning.

"We've been renovating a piece at a time over the past five years," Stone said. "Next year, my goal is a new minnow tank."

The Clinton Store's minnows are delivered daily by Keller's Bait Farm of Lawrence and -- aside from ice -- serves as one of the store's best selling items.

"We'll sell close to 5,000 minnows a day," Stone said. "Minnows are my big sellers on big weekends."

Aside from the minnows and many other necessities for fishing, the store features homemade deli sandwiches, grocery items and soft drinks served up from a fountain or out of the store's vintage Coca-Cola refrigerated cooler.

While many lake visitors shopped The Clinton Store on Saturday, local residents like Sheriff Mike Suitt said the town seldom sees as much excitement as on the weekends and holidays.

"Most of the time you see a car go by, you know who it is except for big weekends like this," Suitt said. "The town is usually just 70 to 80 people compared to thousands at the campground."

Although working at The Clinton Store may seem like just another job at a small town general store, the store is home to Stone whose three bedroom apartment is an attachment of the store itself.

"It's kind of like my home is their home," Stone said. "And no one's in a hurry or ever rude."

Over the past 18 years that she has worked at the store, Stone said she has watched the townspeople come and go from Clinton only to return at some point.

"I've seen a lot of children start out as little tigers and grow up and get married and come back out here to live," Stone said.

Stone -- along with other store employees, Hugh Miner, Pat Starbaum and Art Kuhnert -- operates the store from April through Labor Day.

The Clinton Store opens daily between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and closes between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., depending upon weather conditions.

While The Clinton Store is a regular shopping stop for Clinton locals and lake visitors alike, Romeo Longo -- Well's father-in-law -- said both the lake and the convenience of the general store are often taken for granted.

"People have got it made here (in Clinton)," Longo said. "It's (Clinton Lake) so damn close and for a few bucks a guy can come out here and have a hell of a time."

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