Mary’s Store (Thomson’s Store) is soon to be demolished as an unsafe building. A building with sentimental value to many of its residents and a Town Councilor who was tied to the store for his entire life. What is Mary’s Store? Well, let someone who knew it well, tell you.
A Short story by Jeff Thomson
(Jeff is a Kittery Town Councilor)
Before there was Mary’s Store, there was Thomson Bros. Store. Built and opened in 1936 at the height of the darkest days of the Great Depression. Edward Thomson had faith in himself and his community, however.
It would be a store that would see World War II and ration stamps collected for butter and meat. During the later 40’s, additions would be built and there would be a small restaurant owned by William Thomson that would be an attraction for skaters in the winter months. In the early 1950’s, the restaurant space would be converted to a barber shop-first Al’s, then Henry’s.
James Corner would be a vibrant hub of commerce with the store, Gunnison’s Motor Parts, Gunnison’s Gas Station, Gunnisons Machine Shop, the garage for the Maine/New Hampshire Bridge Authority, and Robert’s Insurance Agency. Carl Durgin lived there and operated school bus service for Kittery. Four busses….all parked in the garage every evening.
The store would be a place where a little boy would learn how to make change-without the benefit of a computer screen telling him how much to return to the customer.
The store would be a place where a 7th grader would get off the school bus on a Friday afternoon in November and be told that his President had been killed in Dallas, Texas.
It would be a place where a teenager would listen to residents debate the issues of the day and think “that sounds like something fun to do when I grow up”.
It would be a place where a college sophomore would come home in April of 1971 to close the business after his father’s second heart attack.
In June of 1971, Mary Shupe would rent the building and reopen a grocery store.
In December of 1971, at the age of 62, Edward Thomson would pass away and in July of 1973, his widow would sell the property to Mary-ironically the purchase price was Thirty Five thousand dollars ($35,000.00) – the cost of the soon to be completed demolition. The rest, as they say, is history.
I just wanted people to know that it wasn’t always this way.
There was a time-not so long ago-when the property was owned by a man who cared about his neighbors, his community, and his family.
written by: Jeff Thomson
MORE STORIES about the End of the Store.