I came upon these photo’s accompanying a Washington Post article by John Kelly (click here.)
Seeing that Tom now runs a store in Browntown, Va. made me curious as to what kind of store it is. After some internet searches, I learned that Browntown is located a little south of Front Royal near Skyline Drive.
Too, I found the FB page (click here) for the store that Tom purchased in 1978 after moving to Browntown from PG County, Maryland. The following was included on their FB page,
OJ’s is an old time country store serving Browntown for 136 years, We hope this page will help us serve our customers, We now accept 4 major credit cards.
OJ Rudacille Gen Mdse., is an old time country store in Downtown Browntown, Va. Mr. John Baublitz came from Carroll County Maryland to Browntown in 1884, with the intention of building a large commodious store in the center of this postwar crossroads village. Jacob Masemer built that store attached to a large frame house. Rene Cooper took over the store in about 1910, and ran it for the rest of his life. That brings us to Oris Jackson Rudacille, O.J., or Buck as his neighbors called him. Buck and his wife Annice bought the property in about 1930, and for a few years rented the building to Keene Updike, who ran the store during the depression. In 1934 the Rudacille’s were ready to take over the operation, and ran O.J.’s for the rest of their lives. Tom and Jean Lacombe came from Prince George’s County, Maryland, and bought the property in 1978, and reopened the store in 1987. Jean was kin to the Coopers, the Updike’s and the Rudacille’s, which helped in their being treated as family in this close knit community. The property has been nominated and approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to be added to the Virginia Landmarks Register. Although the owner loves the structure, the true value lies in the fact that it has been the commercial hub of Browntown for 130 years. Currently business is slow, as most of us make it to town every day, but for many stopping in to buy a lottery ticket or a soda, takes them back to a simpler time, when sitting around the old woodstove at Buck’s was a fine way to spend the evening. Towards the back of the property along a dug road lies the foundation of the Abraham Brown house. Mr. Brown came from near Harper’s Ferry, circa 1830, and built the first carding mill west of the Blue Ridge. The house burned to the ground in the 1920’s, but the village still bears his name.
I called Tom yesterday and had a nice talk with him about the history and background of Browntown in general and specifically about his store. Tom noted that he still opens and runs the store 7 days a week. However, he said that he does so mostly as a hobby and makes little money from it. I told him I was very familiar with and aware of that business model.
If I can ever talk my travel agent into going somewhere again in a post-Covid environment, we might just have to make a visit over to Browntown and check out Tom’s/OJ Rudacille’s Store.
Haven’t played this tune in awhile but seems called for here today. I particularly liked the following quote from someone who commented on the song: