Share Your Stone Brothers’ Stories

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Stone Brothers & Byrd began trading with Durham farmers back in 1914.  100 years later, we’re still at it and going strong.  Through the years, we have really enjoyed hearing folks come in and tell stories about “the old days” at Stone Brothers.  Many of you came to the store as kids many years ago and have great memories of your parents and grandparents.

To help us celebrate our 100th Birthday, we would love for you to share your Stone Brothers’ memories with us.  Just post your thoughts, stories, even videos below.

Thanks so much for making our 100th birthday year one to remember.

SBB Birthday


  1. Jeanette Stokes

    The following is from a piece I wrote for “South of the Garden,” the newsletter of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South.

    SEEDS, 2003

    I almost always rush to my 5:30 yoga class on Wednesday afternoons. I mean to leave my office at 5:00, drive the short mile to Yoga Spot, and have plenty of time to roll out my mat, stretch, and calm myself before Claudia instructs me in becoming a human pretzel.

    That particularly Wednesday I had promised myself that I would move slowly all day. I had, in fact, spent ten minutes on the sofa after lunch. So, I proudly made the decision not to go by my office but to go straight to yoga. The seed store, Stone Bros. & Byrd, is almost across the street from Yoga Spot. I made a little detour to buy grass seed. So much for getting to yoga early.

    Stone Bros. is a business establishment that ought to be protected by the endangered species act. It still has people who can answer your questions and a cash register with a bell. “What are you recommending about planting grass seed in this drought?” I asked the man who, in my mind, owns the place. “Here’s what I’m telling people. . . .” Oh, right, other people have noticed the drought. I listen politely to his good advice about punching deep holes in the yard, something I never intend to do. I pay a teenager to mow and can’t in my wildest dreams imagine being able to talk him into “aerating.” My yard will have to survive without holes. I don’t even care if the birds eat all the grass seed. I just plant it once a year.

    “How big is the yard? Is it as big as this room?” asks the owner. “Are you kidding? I live over in Trinity Park. My lot is 50 x 150 feet and it has a house, a garage, a garden, and sidewalks on it.” “Three pounds should do it,” he says as he shows me the five-pound bag we both agree is too much.

    Now the question is which kind of seed? Shade? Sun? “Mixed,” I say. “Plush something,” says he. It is only 50 cents more than the other one that I don’t know anything about. I begin to wonder if like Alice I will ever emerge from Wonderland. Three something, he writes on a long thin sheet of paper. I’m not going to get grass seed after all. I’m going to get blotter seed. What am I supposed to do? Go home, chew up the paper, and spit it out on the yard? “Lime?” he asks. “Oh, yeah,” I say. I’m supposed to spread that around every year and I think it has been five. “Yes, pellet lime.” I hate the powdered stuff, when you try to spread it around it goes everywhere, like powdered sugar. “I can spread it with my spreader, right?” I ask. (Well, it’s not exactly my spreader, even though it lives in my shed. It belongs to Mr. Wheeles next door, but he is 85 and he hasn’t asked about it in years. I don’t bother to explain this part.)

    Lime, he writes on the same piece of paper. I’m catching onto the system. I pay for the seed and lime and am sent to the “back” to see Amos, to whom I present my long thin piece of paper. “Grass seed,” he says. I wait for the weighing to begin. Amos approaches a scale that seems older than either of us. He removes the weight on the left side of the scale and replaces it with the three-pound weight. On the right side of the scale he places a small brown paper bag, open at the top. He scoops seed from an open bin and pours it slowly into the bag until the scale balances. He folds the top of the bag over twice, pulls a piece of twine off a spool, makes a double loop around the bag, ties a knot, breaks the line with his hand, and presents the bag to me.

    Something deep inside of me let out a great sigh. I was as delighted as the child 100 years ago who was allowed to select the calico sack of flour her family would take home, or the tiny boy who was entrusted with a precious bag of sugar. What a blessing it was, that simple ritual, performed at an old table, in the back of a seed store, in an extra moment of time.

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