Sheilla Lampkin

This is the nineteenth in a series of columns by State Rep. Sheilla Lampkin about historic sites in Monticello. Lampkin is active in historic preservation in Arkansas and has received several awards from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Association. She  writes a regular historical column for several area publications.

I want to look briefly down West McCloy Street now to share information about the location of a public meat storage locker that once operated near the town square. Bill Dunlap, a kind gentleman who is a former Drew Countian and brother of the late Martha Sue McClain, called and supplied some information about the business.

He also suggested I call his cousins, Shirley Burks of Wilmar and Hardy McKinstry of Banks, to hear their memories. I did and heard some delightful memories!

The meat storage business was operated by Hardy Daniel, son of Henry and Minnie Daniel of Wilmar. Hardy left Drew County in the mid to late 1930s and lived in Tulsa for a time. He is well-remembered by many nieces and nephews because he stayed single longer and was “very good” to them as favorite uncles usually are. He did marry later in life and he and his wife, Margaret, and family returned to Drew County and opened the meat processing/ storage locker business in the mid-1940s, or possibly earlier.

The business was located on the corner of West McCloy Street and North Church streets where Union Bank now has a parking lot. An OTASCO store formerly sat there. After OTASCO left the building, it was a thrift store for several years. The meat storage business preceded OTASCO.

The building was a two-story structure with a basement. The Daniels and their four children, Maggie, Heather, Annie Laurie and Hardy Jr., lived on the second floor. A meat market and the rental units were located on the first floor. The rental units were installed so locals could have storage spaces available to keep meats and/or vegetables from their gardens or orchards. Each locker was rented with its own key.

The basement served as a meat slaughtering and dressing facility and was especially equipped for that purpose. People would bring in their chickens, beef or hogs where they would be slaughtered, cut up, packaged and stored. Some of the processed meat could/would be wrapped and sold in the store on the ground floor.

In my mind the store resembled my concept of a butcher shop where some meats were sold over the counter. The locker spaces in back of the shop were several different sizes according to one’s needs and containers were/could be provided to store the food. No one remembers the exact composition of these containers, but think it was some type of coated cardboard.

There would often be “chicken days” held when chickens were slaughtered en masse in the basement. Hardy McKinstry, nephew and namesake of Hardy Daniel, worked part time at the locker as a youth and recalls the terrible stench on those days and the huge mess.

McKinstry also recalled that there was a walk-up window in the first-floor store where customers could buy soft-serve ice cream and that he often made himself sick overindulging on the sweet treat. Many other local youngsters worked there in some capacity during the summer months, including Shirley Burks, Hardy McKinstry, Aileen Mosley and Frank Riviere.

Shirley Burks recalls waiting on customers, renting them storage units and helping clients retrieve stored food from their lockers in the shop. Mrs. Burks also fondly recalls the fun times had when Mr. Riviere, Ms. Mosley and she went to lunch at Mrs. Green’s Tea Room. The meals were served family-style and you sat down at one big table never knowing who’d be sitting by you. She met many interesting people there. Mrs. Green’s Tea Room sat in the area behind the old Lamar Ross service station where the Drew County Detention Facility now sits. Working in town, going out for lunch and interacting with so many people was a fantastic experience and great fun for a young lady in the pre-WWII days.

Regretfully, no one remembers when the food locker and meat plant closed. However, many folks remember the business and their many trips there. If anyone has any more information, please call. If not, this concludes another story from the colorful history of a place called Monticello in Drew County, Arkansas.