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Building a museum ‘country store’ to preserve a collection

Ray Hunley of Mathews has built something close to his heart and history: a room in the Mathews Historical Museum to house his father’s country store collection.

A grand opening is expected in early summer, said museum president Tom Robinson.

Tommy Hunley, longtime meter reader for the Virginia Electric and Power Company, now Dominion, visited every corner of Mathews County during his 36 years on the road. When he retired in 1987, he estimated he had driven 800,000 miles in Mathews, Gloucester, King and Queen, and King William counties. Most of his time was spent in Mathews.

In several interviews with the Gazette-Journal, Hunley told how his work took him to community stores, and how much he enjoyed them. “I would just sit down and drink a Pepsi-Cola and talk with the old storekeeper,” Hunley said. “It was almost a demand for every community to have one.”

Early in the 20th century, country stores were truly gathering places and news central for communities. Few people had ...

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