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A. F. Carraway celebrates 100 years

The children of Neil Burns invite the county to come celebrate A. F.
Carraway Store’s 100th year anniversary in Bassfield May 4.
Bassfield Mayor Pat Courtney will make a special presentation at 11 a.m.
Hot dogs and sausage dogs will be served to customers and there will
be a special cake.
The owners would be delighted to have citizens come and share with
them any particular stories of their experiences over the years with
the business, and those who have never been are welcome to become new
friends of Carraway’s.
“While he was still in high school my dad, Neil Burns, began working
at A.F. Carraway’s store for Gus Jr. whose father and father’s brother
established the business,” said Colleen Burns Powell.
“He worked first doing bookwork and later began running the store.
After Gus’ wife Dorothy died around 1989-90 he took over the business
permanently.”
Burns tried to keep what the community needed in stock whether it was
groceries, plumbing supplies or fence staples.
He extended credit to those who needed it, delivered groceries to
those who were unable to come to town and his concern and generosity
for the community was well known and appreciated.
In 2011 Bassfield honored Neil Burns for his dedicated service.
Many community members told stories of how he had helped individuals
extending various acts of kindness during their hard times.
Burns celebrated his 61st anniversary with Carraway’s on July 28,
2013, and his last day at the store was Aug. 2 that same year. Cancer
claimed his life shortly thereafter.
His children Colleen Burns Powell of Canton, Lynne Burns Miller of
Prentiss, Bronwyn Burns Dyess of Petal and Sean Burns of Columbia have
taken shifts to keep the store running in the tradition that would
please their father.
“We grew up here and know the history in our lifetimes,” said Powell.
“We don’t know too much of the earlier history, only the word-of-mouth
stories before Dad took over and we have not been able to find early
paperwork to verify dates.”
In 2012 Bassfield resident, the late Bobby J. Garraway, wrote in his
blog, “In the 1930s it was run by A.F.Carraway, his son A.F. Carraway
II, Will Carraway, Rosa Lee Dear, John Baker and Wood Carraway.  They
also had a large fertilizer warehouse and sold Swift and Armour
fertilizers.   A.F. Carraway II, who was called little Gus, bought
cotton from the farmers at the cotton platform.  My Mother worked in
the store in the 1940s. She sold dry goods.”
According to Powell,  in the earlier days the left side of the store
was dedicated mostly to the ladies and shelves were filled with
fabric, patterns, sewing notions and other female interests.
The right side of the store contained shoes anboots, overalls, etc.
Grocery staples and hardware were available then, as they are now.
There was a warehouse where the bank’s back parking is now that housed
rolls of linoleum and the Burns children always wanted to play on them
but their dad would not allow it.
“Growing up we got to help at the store bagging groceries and later
pumping gas. We thought we were really grown when he let us pump gas,”
said Powell. She also points to the black spots on the counter front
board where men used to put out their cigarettes.
The old cash register is still in use and the store has most of its
original furnishings adding to the air of a step back in time.
Customers still come for the most popular items of hoop cheese, bacon
and overalls.
A. F. Carraway’s Store is the only local vendor for Roundhouse
overalls in the state bringing the business many returning customers
from all over.
The business also sells specialty items such as T-shirts that can be
personalized by sisters Lynne and Bronwyn.
Powell’s husband Ray and long time employee Wayne Brown, whose father
was also a long time employee of the business, usually run the store
during the week while Powell comes in every other Friday and Saturday.
“We all have full-time jobs and live in other towns, but find time to
come work at the store when we can,” said Powell.
“Neil Burns’ kids have really taken an interest, worked hard in the
store and improved it. Their father would be so proud of the way they
run Carraway’s,”said Mayor Courtney.
As for the future of the business, Powell said they continue to
operate the business on a month to month basis.
“We plan to continue serving the community as long as possible.”
For more information visit the A. F Carraway Store Facebook page or
call the store at 601-943-5551.