Marshall Historical Society

Deansboro Superette
By Janet Dangler, March 2021

The general store in Deansboro, known as the Deansboro Superette, has a long history. It was advertised variously as the only store in town that carried groceries, dry goods, boots, hardware, drugs, ice cream, candy and tobacco. An advertisement in 1915 gave the information it wan agency for several popular farmers' lines" and went to on tout the fact it was a "good sized store with store room, electric lights, furnace and modern fixtures." The store was originally built in 1840 and occupied by G.W. Barker as a grocery and dry goods store. A.D. VanVechton took over the store in 1877. The store was fully stocked, and among the inventory were brooms at 20 cents or 5 for 90 cents; halters at 22 cents; collars 14 cents to 20 cents; raisins 12 cents; coffee 25 cents; cigars 9 cents. They also carried general groceries, stationery, boots and shoes, crockery, wallpaper — and that was only a partial listing of what could be found there. It was truly a one-stop store! VanVechton's partner was F.L. Fairbank until 1881, and VanVechton ran the store by himself, with the help of his brother Frank VanVechton, until 1898. His nephews E.W. Stafford and A.L. Bailey then took over operating the business. Orville B. Northrup and his brother George Northrup also ran the business during that time.

In 1865, VanVechton sold the business to C.R. Hewitt and Sons, who in turn sold it to R.W. French. In 1911 it was operated by John Barker and William McNamara of Waterville. From 1925 until 1942, the store was owned by J. Charles Earl and operated by C.M. Bingham and Jay Davis. Morris Sturdevant Sr. took over the store at that time, and in 1952 sold it to Ralph Jones who called it Ralph's General Store. I remember going there for boots, and an early resident recalled, "You could still buy cookies and buns in boxes. National Biscuit Company had pretty well cornered the market. There were Oreos, Mary Anns, Fig Newtons, and you took a paper bag, reached in the box and filled it up. They were good cookies; better than now. You could buy kerosene there and there was a gas pump out front; and of course you could buy shoes, boots, kerchiefs, overalls. He had a butcher and very popular was dried beef for dried beef gravy, which could be sliced before your eyes. And there was also beautiful cheese on the counter. Just right! And Johnny Pughe would cut off a bit, just the size you wanted. If you wanted shoes, there was a little salesman's stool, like you find in a shoe store. Very nice Wellingtons."

During Ralph Jones' tenure, in 1957, a tractor-trailer truck loaded with 20 tons of calcium chloride sped out of control down West Hill, shearing off the back of the store and destroying a hardware store and a warehouse just below. However, records of inventories, sales, storage, and canal shipments dating back to 1836 were discovered. The old Chenango Canal ran right behind the store, and there used to be a hook at the back where boats would stop, hook up, and get whatever they needed. The old wheel and hook were still there after the accident.

In October 1961, the business was operated by Stephen Congelo of Waterville, where he had operated a general store. He called it the Buy Rite Superette. It burned in April, 1962, a conflagration which completely destroyed the 120-year old building. It stood empty for a while, a real eyesore right in the middle of the hamlet, until Frank Seelow, general contractor who had lived in Deansboro for years bid for the site successfully at auction in 1963 for $1250. He purchased it from Lida Earl (Mrs. J.C. Earl), the owner, and rebuilt and renovated the building, adding modern refrigeration equipment and new shelving.

Dick Harrington took over operation of the newly remodeled store in 1964 and called it the Deansboro Superette. Dick, a native of Deansboro, grew up across the street from the store and actually worked there as a butcher before it was destroyed by fire. In 1967, Anthony and Helen Gazzal purchased the property and operated the store, helped by their son John, who carried on the tradition of camaraderie and community until his untimely death March 6, 2021. The Superette is still open today, run by John's daughter Michelle Peck, and Michelle's three daughters, Torrie (who bakes yummy s'mores), Alaina, and Sarah. They feature, besides all the food and dry goods which make up a general store, delicious "monster" subs and homemade Middle Eastern foods. They make up attractive meat and cheese platters. One can count on the Deansboro Superette if area activities need their help. Whether it is the Boilermaker team they sponsored, the Bush League teams who wore green Deansboro Superette shirts, or the Fire Department who depended on them to sell tickets to their barbecues, they are there when needed to offer their support. So we are very fortunate in town to still have a place where one can find just about anything, enjoy good food, and gather with neighbors.

Just a few examples of the way the "corner store" has contributed to the community

The Cancer Drive in Deansboro netted well over $l66, according to Edith Small, chairman. The Brownies have been collecting white sheets and nylons, and here" is a box for the purpose at Ralph's General Store.

Dick Harrington, proprietor of the Deansboro Superette, la donating the grand prize in the "Best Reader" contest being conducted by the Deansboro Public Library. Lists submitted will be judged on quality as well as quantity of books read, according to the age of the contestant.

The Brothertown Scholarship Foundation would like to thank all of the following businesses for making the Nostalgia Dance tickets available at their establishments, especially Deansboro .Superette and Musical Museum

Deansboro Cub Scouts Pack 37 would like to thank the Deansboro Superette for their kind and generous donations to the Blue and Gold Banquet. The Superette, run by the Gazzal family, has been a staunch supporter of many youth and community activities for years. The Cub Scouts greatly appreciate their willingness to be involved

The WSCS of the Methodist church is sponsoring a bake sale to be held on Saturday, October 5, at Ralph's General store, beginning at 3:00 p.m.

The WSCS of the Deansboro Methodist Church is sponsoring a bake sale to be 'held at 1 o'clock on Saturday, January 13, at Congelo's Buy Rite

The Auxiliary of the fire department is sponsoring an outside lighting contest for the residents of the Deansboro Postal District First prize of $10 and second prize of $5 will be given. Those wishing to enter should send their names to Box 52, Deansboro Post Office, or leave in the special container at Ralph's General Store by December 21.

Residents of Deansboro and Oriskany Falls are invited to participate on Thursday, Dec. 19 in "Merry Christmas", a decoration contest sponsored by the Deansboro Garden Club. To enter please sign up at The Deansboro Superette or at the C.W. Clark Memorial Library in Oriskany Falls. Deansboro Cub Scouts

Store in John Barker's time (approximately 1911) Woman on the left Minnie Barker; man on the right Bob Williams In 1957 a tractor-trailer truck loaded with 20 tons of calcium chloride sped out of control down West Hill, and sheared off the back of the store.
General Store 1915 — operated by J. Barker J.C. Earl Store — around 1925. Ben Smith's barber shop on right. Men far left — Robert Applegate, who operated the Deansboro Hotel during Prohibition; far right — Ben Morehouse.
Remodeled Superette — 1960s Superette — 2020

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