Sepia Saturday – Charles’ and Abbie’s Place

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

When I saw this prompt, there was no doubt about what I would be sharing today. My grandparents, Charles and Abbie Webber Smith, owned a truckstop/grocery store/cafe in southeastern Iowa during the 1950s and 60s.




I categorize some of my posts as “Life at The Hedrick Y” because my grandparents’ business and home and my Dad(Jerry)’s business and sometimes his home were all located at what the locals called the Hedrick Y. This old map shows the intersection of highways 63 and 149.

The Hedrick Y

You can see a portion of the “Y” created by the intersection in this photograph.

The Y created a nice little triangular park. My grandfather built the picnic tables you can see in the lower right. That little square patch near the picnic tables was a grill where we occasionally grilled hot dogs or hamburgers.

The house on the left was my Dad(Jerry)’s. The buildings in the middle were his motorcycle  shop – storefront, mechanic’s garage, and warehouse. On the right is the truckstop/cafe/grocery store with my grandparent’s home attached on the far right. There was another little house hidden by the trees behind the truckstop. My great aunt and uncle, Norman and Irene Webber, lived there for several years. The oval track in the back is where my dad, a professional motorcycle competitor, practiced. Their property was surrounded on two sides by cornfields – not sure what’s growing on the other side.

The aerial photo above was taken after major rebuilding, so let’s look at a few older pictures….

I lived the first two years of my life at the Hedrick Y. That’s a trophy sitting on the counter in front of my mom. It must have been a good day for my dad.

I tried to zoom in on the signs by the door into the kitchen, but I never could read the small print on the one that says KEEP OUT OF THE KITCHEN. The one on the upper right of the door says: We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. And the sign above the cigarettes: LUCKIES TASTE BETTER!

Mom and me at the lunch counter 1953

When I was a month old, my mom, grandmother, grandfather, and great-grandmother all took a picture with me sitting in the same spot in front of a brick post. I won’t bore you with all 4 pictures – nor the one with Kay, the dog.

Grandpa Charles and Me

It looks like there was a grocery delivery that day – lots of boxes in the background. Abbie did a lot of handwork, including crochet. The large doily hanging on the post was probably one she made.

And here I am in my baby buggy right by the Conoco oil display…

What is that?

Those must be Grandpa’s Conoco overalls hanging by the door. Grandma’s sewing machine is in the background… guess she did some sewing when there were no customers.

And I’m trying to figure out what the contraption is on the wall by the door…

Unfortunately, I cut away part of the picture below when I was a kid. I wanted the picture to fit in my wallet. I wish I hadn’t done that. The rest of the sign might have been in the picture.

Me and Mom in hats

I’m guessing this was Easter 1954. Even after the original building was torn down, the water pump on the far left remained. I enjoyed pumping water. Of course, I was a kid, and we didn’t really need to pump water any more. A game to me that I am sure had been a chore to my elders.


There were advantages to spending my days at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. I believe I must be oohing and ahhing over some sweet treats.

Hugs from Grandpa… who might have a little grease on him sometimes. I’m including this unfortunately blurry picture because of the Joe Lewis poster which has replaced Grandma’s doily on the brick post.

Oh my – now that I’ve started I don’t know where to stop! I think I have at least another 3 posts worth of pictures and stories to go. I’ll just finish up briefly and try to do the rest on another day or three.

I don’t really have any memories of the place at this young age. And, although I only lived here for two years, the Hedrick Y remained a big part of my life for much longer. I spent every other Saturday at the Y as a little girl, and when Mom remarried and we moved away, I came back for a month every summer and alternate Christmases. I do have a lot of memories of those days.

So I’ll close with just a couple more pictures…

Out with the old


In with the new

And many more years of memories…

Saturday morning cartoons


Helping Grandma cook

I shared a few memories of my Grandmother Abbie and the Hedrick Y in one of my first posts.

More later.

Please visit other Sepia Saturday participants. They are always interesting and entertaining.


28 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday – Charles’ and Abbie’s Place

  1. What an enjoyable post. You were very lucky to still have so many pictures of the inside of the store, so that we can read all the details of the goods, but there are some really lovely shots here, especially you in your in your pram and with your Mom.

    • Yes, I do feel lucky to have these pictures and it was fun to recognize Campbell’s soup, Dreft detergent and more in the background. I especially like those photos too. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments!

    • Just leaving a little note here to say that some of the comments that were left for me this morning aren’t showing up. I was using my iPad, so don’t know if that’s the problem. But please know that I approved and replied to everyone’s comments, and I’m sorry if yours isn’t here. I’m perplexed!

    • I took a trip to Iowa this summer and found that aerial photo so I made sure to get a copy. It probably is a bit unusual to have so many family pictures taken in a truck stop! Thanks for taking a look and leaving your comments, Bob!

  2. Oh, my goodness, you have so many pictures! This is so fantastic. Kathy, my Grandma’s family were the Hedricks of the Drain, Oregon area. I would love to learn more about The Hedrick Y.

    Wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing your family with us.

    Kathy M.

    • The Hedrick Y got its name from the nearby town of Hedrick, Iowa. I haven’t looked into the origin of the name of the town, but a man named Hedrick would be my guess. Maybe one related to you! Come back any time – the Hedrick Y will make future appearances. Thanks for Kind comments!

  3. This is definitely my favorite post of the week. As Bob said, the aerial view was the perfect introduction to life at the Y. I don’t know what amused me more – everyone taking turns holding you in front of the brick column, the doily ON the column (was it covering where a wood/coal stove once was??), or that happy expression on your face while parked next to the oil display. All the bits of life in those photos leave me wanting to travel back in time so I could pop in at the truck stop and risk not being served.

    • Well, gee, thanks Wendy! It was fun for me to go back through these pictures and look for the little details I hadn’t noticed before. And you would certainly have been served! My grandmother enjoyed chatting with her regular customers as well as those just passing through. It was a great place to get a serving of local gossip along with your coffee!

  4. I love your post, Kathy! My favorite picture is of you and your mother dressed so prettily for Easter. It brought back memories of when my mom used to do that for my sister and I when we were just little ones.

    • Thanks, Yvonne! Every time I look at that picture it reminds me of The Music Man. I don’t even know if that hat fits the movie – but that’s what I think of. Every Easter we got a new dress and a hat. I loved it! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. What a lot of good living happened in that store. I enjoyed the photos. The way your father had you laying on the counter reminded me of my husband and his way of holding our kids where they were babies.

  6. Your pictures – especially of your grandfather – brought back wonderful memories! I always enjoyed visiting the Hedrick Y. Unfortunately, I don’t think I got to visit in summers when you were there. But then, your grandparents wanted to give you as much attention as possible. Are you going to do a post about the outhouse? Do you have a photo of it??

    • I don’t have a picture of the outhouse! I don’t think so, anyway. I’ll have to take a closer look at some of the pictures. It’s funny that I don’t remember the outhouse there. I have very vivid memories of the outhouse at my other grandparents’ house where I lived the rest of the week. I wonder why that is? Of course, once they built the new building at the Y, there was no more outhouse – at least I don’t think there was. In any case, there was an indoor toilet there before there was one at the Hoskins’. How about you do a post about the outhouse? I’d love it!

  7. This is such a fun post! So much history! And the aerial shot is so cool!

    The photo of you as a baby underneath the Conoco sign is just adorable. And the photo of you looking at the candy is priceless. (Hmm, is that what I look like at the See’s Candy counter? Love See’s chocolates!)

    • Thanks, Jana. I had fun going through all these pictures. My love of sweets obviously started early! I don’t know why the aerial shot was taken, but I’m glad it was. I could remember a lot of the layout of things, but it shows so much more. I had forgotten about the little white picket fence along the parking spaces. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!

  8. A thoroughly enjoyable post, rich in detail – both in terms of words and photographs. I love the way you get a real feel for the store simply by it being used as a background over the years – I love searching the background of photographs as they often provide wonderful clues to the time the photograph was taken.

    • Thanks, Alan. I enjoyed looking at these photos in a new light – looking for details in the background that I had never noticed before. I may go back and zoom in on a few more to see what else is lurking there.

  9. I was always envious of people who lived and worked at the same location. Not sure why. It just always seemed nice to have a store in the family.

    • Prior to opening their business my grandparents had a farm so, for them, work and family always coexisted. I think there can be some advantages to that. Thanks for reading and leaving your comment!

  10. This is a wonderful post and you’ve shared so many great pictures. Good idea to include the aerial shot which helped give perspective to the remaining images. My favorite pic is the colored one of you and your grandfather. You can see in his face that he was crazy about you. 🙂 Second favorite is the one of you & your mother at Easter – nice baby bonnet. Just a guess, but do you think the contraption by the door was a buzzer to let your grandparents know when a customer had arrived to purchase gas? Look forward to seeing more of your photos from the Hedrick Y.

    • That’s a good guess. Maybe and after hours buzzer or something? I need to do some asking around the family and see if anyone knows. My grandfather died when I was about 7, so my memories and pictures of him are few. I was happy to share a couple of pictures of him here. Thanks for you comments and suggestion!

  11. What a great collection of family photographs down the years, and so appropriate to the theme. My favourites – the hug from your grandfather and the one where you look so cute in your little boots and bobble hat, peering in a display case.

    • I hadn’t made the connection until you pointed it out. Yes – here we are, close to another Y – which will also probably disappear in the near future. I haven’t paid that much attention to the road construction plans, but surely the Y will be replaced with a spaghetti bowl or something.

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