Peninsula Reflections

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2007


  Mara Kooly and Frost Jones pause on the step to Casey's Grocery in August 1960. Photo courtesy of Ruth Grueninge

Mara Kooly and Frost Jones pause on the step to Casey's Grocery in August 1960.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Grueninge

It's been 47 years since Casey Jones and his wife Frost, now both deceased, sold their grocery store on Cook Avenue in Kenai.

But the building, boarded up now and barely visible through the trees across from Kenai Joe's bar is still standing, and the memories of this delightful couple are still fresh with the old-timers who knew them.

Lisa Augustine (aka Arlene Rheingans) remembers the day she and her friend Evelyn Bactuit (now Boulette) joined Lisa in a fit of "brazen audacity."

"Mom had several barrels of old clothes that she kept in the attic of our cabin," she recalls. "We spent hours up there, dressing like movie stars and painting our faces with forbidden makeup.

"One day we stuffed our bras with Kleenex, donned some glad-rags, painted our lips and cheeks and then dared each other to walk over to Casey Jones' store to buy a candy bar. Giggling and jiggling, we made our purchase, with arms crossed over our padded bosoms. Casey, to his credit, pretended he didn't recognize us, and treated us as if we were new ladies in town."

Joanna Hollier says one could spend hours there visiting. She was in the store the first time Jean McMaster arrived to shop with Lance and her new baby Kim.

Frost and Casey lived next door to the business, and Jim and Peggy Arness lived in a log cabin directly behind the store. Casey always seemed to be in a hurry, Peggy recalls. He walked fast or ran. One time he was returning from the nearby post office when Peggy's 3-year-old son Jimmy looked out the window, saw him and called excitedly, "Mommie, come see, Casey is walking!"

Gini Poore has a special memory, too. She and her husband, Al, thought their new baby daughter, Debbie, might not be gaining properly, so she took the baby to Casey's and weighed her on the produce scale.

Everyone agrees the Joneses were good people. They were members of the library board among other things. Frost was a historian and an artist and gave freely of her work for Heart Fund raffles and other charities.

This column was written by Mary Ford with the Kenai Historical Society.

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