By Rosalyn Graham
It’s funny how the most mundane experiences, when viewed from the distance of 50 or 60 or 70 years, take on iconic importance.
That was the case on Monday evening as a crowd gathered at Shelburne Town Hall to remember the grocery store that stood for more than 100 years at the corner of Harbor Road and Route 7.
Watching a slide show of images gathered by Linda Towle, whose father Charlie was co-owner of the store from 1948 to 1968, prompted laughter, evoked reminiscences, and encouraged everyone to help to identify themselves or their friends and relatives in the scenes of shopping at Doenges & Towle IGA.
Towle’s career as an archeologist probably honed her talent for digging up the most significant moments in the history of the store that operated in that location from 1851 to 1968.
Kevin Clayton, whose father Harry bought Al Doenges’ share of the business in 1963, told the audience of Harry’s role as a butcher and a visionary, who saw the wisdom of creating Shelburne Shopping Park in 1968 and moving the IGA store to the site the Shelburne Super Market occupies today.
Clayton also spoke of the importance of stewardship of such community gathering places. He said, “The reason we live in places like this is that being part of a place supports us as we grow,” he said. The historic grocery store is now the home Clayton’s business, Village Wine and Coffee, and he says he is constantly reminded that “people have been gathering in this building for more than 150 years.”
The presentation and discussion came as Clayton is currently expanding his wine and coffee business into the north half of the building, the side that once housed the grocery store. The project is nearing completion and the trip down memory lane wrapped up with a tour of the renovated space.
For those who weren’t able to attend, Towle will donate her digital presentation and many artifacts of the IGA store to the Shelburne Historical Society.