By Bill Hawkins:
Who doesn’t love “The Andy Griffith Show?” Call it nostalgia. Call it trivia. For one man in Appomattox, call it love. So much love, in fact, that Kent Hodges has created his own little Mayberry right here in Appomattox.
Driving down Trent Hatchery Road I first saw the police car that looked like the one Deputy Fife used to drive around Mayberry tracking down dangerous criminals – like Ernest T. Bass. When I saw it, the squad car was parked at the pumps of an old country store. I had to stop. It was as if I might see Barney talking to Goober as they drank Grape NeHi’s on the front porch.
I first talked to Kent’s wife, Joan, and that’s when I discovered that Kent had been collecting bits of the old store since his teen years. Not only does Kent’s hobby reflect his love for nostalgic Mayberry, but it also is a reflection of the love for his hometown of Appomattox. Several of the items in the store come straight out of the old stores and businesses of Appomattox, or nearby. He has a counter from the Hunter T. Dickerson Store and the cash register used to be the one in the old post office in Spout Spring. The front door came off the old store in Evergreen. The old coke cooler was the one in the old Wells Store in Red House. When you stop in ask about other items in the store and find out where they came from. Who know, maybe you’ll find something in the store with which you share history; such as what I discovered in the paragraph below.
As Kent was showing me around his amazing store, I caught glimpse of an old toy I had as small kid in the late ‘60’s. In one of the glass cabinets was an old metal roller coaster that I had forgotten about over the years, but seeing it brought back many memories of playing with it as a small boy and marveling at what fun it would be to ride a real roller coaster.
I saw items that I didn’t know the purpose of and that’s when Joan told me that it’s sometimes the visitors to the store that tell them about items that not even Kent knows the use for.
Visiting “The Old Filling Station” is like going back in time as the items are real and look as they did in the days of “Mayberry.” Yet, even more amazing than the store and the nostalgia found all around, is Kent and Joan Hodges’ love for a bygone era that they have preserved to share freely with others. If you happen to visit “The Old Filling Station,” be prepared for Kent and Joan to share their most valuable gift with you. It’s a gift well worth the drive.
To find more information about the store and contact information and directions, visit www.Appomattox.VAyourWay.com. Then click on the “Tourism” heading and check or type-in any of the following 3 keywords, “History, Museum, or Oddities.”