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C.R. Moss Store and Service Station

by Ed Waggener

The C.R. Moss Store and Service Station was at one time among the most familiar landmarks in Gradyville. Measured by "Loafer Index"--an average of 15-20 at any time--the store was very busy and prosperous.

There were lots of checkers at the store, but no card games. The Courier-Journal, daily, and the Adair County News came by mail to the store, and were read there by many of the regulars. For those who needed the newspaper read for them, the resident intellect, Ossie Coomer could provide a complete summary of anything anyone needed to know, with his complete recall of almost anything he heard or read.

Excitement came when the famous or near famous stopped at the store. Some remember a late night stop by the Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College basketball team on their way home to Richmond from Bowling Green, most likely after being beaten the Hilltoppers, then coached by Gradyville's own E.A. Diddle.

Others remember the stop by the renowned Scufflin' Hillbillies, world class wrasslers, who bought new overalls at Moss' prior to a wrestling match in Columbia.

As late as the 1950's families bought a week's supply of groceries at a time there. In addition, there were the travelers on busy Highway 80 who saw the sign of the Texaco star as a reliable place to buy gas and oil, and get food, including fresh cut sandwiches. The main entrees were bologna, liver cheese, American and cheddar cheese, city ham, or luncheon meat, fixed up with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup or hot sauce, on light bread or foursquare sandwich crackers.

There was a dizzying array of glass-bottled soft drinks: the little Coca-Colas, Double Cola, Orange Crush, Dr. Pepper and the rest of Rives Kerbow's Columbia Bottling line. And the long gone "-ettes" from the bottling plant located in a little building across Campbellsville Street from what is now Burton's Service Station. They came in small, smooth bottles and covered a nice arc of the fruit spectrum; there was Orangette, Grapette, Limette, Lemonette and maybe others. Soft drinks in the early days after the war were 5 cents a bottle.

The Operators
C.R. "Clint" Moss, who later the discovered the Gradyville Oil Field, founded and operated the store until after World War II, when son Eugene Moss returned from service in the South Pacific and took over.

Gene Moss married Betty Barnett of Columbia after the war. He was so fully satisfied with life in Gradyville that he rarely left the area. Betty Moss would do most of the banking and other business which made trips to Columbia necessary two or three times a week. But Mr. Moss limited trips to Columbia for weekend suppers at Grover Gilpin and Irvin Monroe's G&M Grill, or Bill and Maxine Walker's Meadow Hill Inn. For the most part, he was content to stay in Gradyville, and trips away vexed him.

A Note on Geography
Bob Moss says that the store was not in Gradyville. To understand this, one has to understand macro Gradyville in micro terms. Gradyville is the capital of Western Adair County. That is, as H.L. Mencken might have said it, "Gradyville is to Western Adair County what London is to England and Madrid is to Spain." Always was. Always will be.

Olden days geography divided the city into Old Gradyville, the mercantile/industrial/financial district on the old road, with it's grand old house, Walker Bros and other stores, the Bank of Gradyville, the Wilmore Hotel, Dudley's Mill and the Post Office, and the Gradyville Baptist Church and the old Gradyville Methodist Church. Old Gradyville included all the area in the Big Creek bottom up to the Baptist Church, and down Big Creek.

New Gradyville was the part on the big road--Highway 80--and up Richards' Hollow Road. It is bounded on the east by Jones Chapel Road and on the west by the bridge at the foot of Weed Ridge (or Kudzoo Mountain.) Technically, this would have put the Moss Store outside Gradyville, though the family home--where Doris Breeding lives--would have been technically in Gradyville.

The C.R. Moss Store and Service Station burned in January of 1970, and was never reopened. Only the concrete block garage extension of the store remains today.

This story was posted on 2003-04-27 07:47:26
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C. R. Moss Store ca. 1949

2003-04-27 - Gradyville, KY . THE C. R. MOSS STORE and SERVICE STATION. Gradyville, ca 1949. C.R. Moss and an unidentified child are in the foreground. of this photo taken around 1949, Bob Moss remembers. The store had by then time come under the ownership of Bob Moss' father and mother, Eugene and Betty Barnett Moss. The upstairs had been outfitted as an apartment for Jimmy Moss, who worked in the store when C.R. Moss owned it. Mr. Moss' car is a circa 1947 Ford. The hand pumped gas dispensers can be seen under the canopy. Some may be able to see the public outhouse to the left in the photo. Bob Moss still owns the Texaco sign, though it is no longer standing. Photo from the collection of Bob Moss.
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