The familiar landscape is the one that often receives the least notice. But when that landscape changes, the disorientation strikes with ferocity, and a palpable sense of loss. For all my love of crossroad communities – places not quite a town, grown organically at the intersection of two roads – the one closest to me is a stranger.
Sewell Shop, located on US 60 about nine miles east of Winchester, is technically in Clark County, but the boundary line of Montgomery County is but a breath away. Some of my earliest memories of car travel center on US 60, and at a young age, I knew that the Sewell Shop intersection meant home was near. US 60 intersects with the Thompson Station Road (originally a turnpike that run from Schollsville to Sewell Shop to Wades Mill) at Sewell Shop.
Named for the Sewell family, who settled in the area in the mid-19th century, the community’s landscape was defined, for me, by a handful of houses, and a brick store building. Known as the Crump-Dykes Store, it was built in 1892, and bought by the Crump family in 1896.
I never remember the store being in business, but my mother once bought straw hats there for my three older siblings. It was part of the fabric of my weeks, however, as trips to Lexington were frequent, and I was always in back-seat land, staring out of the window (on the rare occasions when I didn’t have my nose in a book).
My father recalls driving out to Sewell Shop at the age of 16 in his brand-new 1954 Willys (Willys-Overland Motors company) Jeep. The jeep was purchased from Robert Earl Ensor on Grassy Lick for $1,300 – my father was an only child, and somewhat spoiled (but in best possible way. I might add that I did not receive a new car when I turned 16. I received no car…).
The Coca-Colas at Crump’s Store were in glass bottles, and swam in a vat of icy water that threatened to freeze off your fingers when you fished one out – but they were, according to my father, the best tasting Cokes in the world.
On the same side of the road is an old concrete block garage and a two-story frame I-house that I have watched disintegrate over the last few years. The decay started with a hole in the roof of the ell, and now the rafters at the front of the house are also visible. It was a Sewell House, and likely dates from the 1870s or a bit later.
I stopped to take photos of the old store building in 2008, one of the rare occasions that I beat the bulldozer. I still look for it when I drive by – and I suppose I will soon look for the large white frame house being left to crumble apart. Nothing stays the same, as much as we want it to – and all we can do is capture small moments and celebrate the beautiful illuminations of life as they occur. And always, be aware of that which is familiar and part of the background – it touches you more than you realize.