The Histories of the Lorane Service Station (aka The Mitchell Store) and the Lorane Family Store
In recognition of the
Lorane Family Store’s 40th anniversary
December 1977 – 2017
The History of the Mitchell’s Store
(Lorane Service Station)
By William Olsen
April 12, 2008
Most of my family came from Ireland. But I have roots I can trace to people coming over on the Mayflower. But I can trace, and just have more roots, from Ireland. Most of my ancestors came over during the great potato famine! (Before that they where probably eating the some of the more common Irish foods, like limerick ham, apple jelly, and soda bread. But potato was what they usually sold for money, and ate with all their meals.)
They had two options: stay in Ireland and starve to death or try to go to America and risk death on the way over. The later option is the one that they choose, for obvious reasons. So they packed up their few belongings and set out for the docks. When they got there however, they probably had to sell their stuff, so they could get the money to buy passage on a ship. This was really expensive because the captains would charge them an excessive amount of money, due to how badly they wanted to get to America. These boats quickly gained the name of coffin ships.
Some of my ancestors must have made it, because my Great Grandpa Bill Mitchell was born. Bill and his wife Hattie, lived near Bill’s brothers in California. Unfortunately Hattie’s sister’s health was not so good, so as a family they decided to move. They packed up their model T-Fords and trailers. This undoubtedly was a long trip they made. Grandpa told me that they would sleep in the fords all the way on the trip because they did not have the spare money to sleep in a hotel, and who knows what might have crawled in back of those trucks.
After the long trip they arrived in a small logging town known as Lorane. There the four brothers all worked in a logging business. They worked there for a while, and then they decided to start their own logging business. Their mill was one of the first mills to get an electric saw put in. Grandpa worked there for a while until he got injured in an accident. He sold his share in the company and he decided to open up a store.
The store had two gas pumps right out front. As you enter through the front door, right in front of you would be the counter and there would be Grandpa sitting there, smiling his genuine smile at you. The store’s name, “The Lorane Service Station,” was quickly changed by the people who came in regularly to, “The Mitchell’s Store.” Grandpa’s store soon became a meeting place for the whole town. Everybody would come down for some reason or another. Some people would come down for gas, others for groceries, the kids came for the penny candy, but everyone would stop by.
Then disaster struck! The Great Depression came on. Grandpa, being a nice man started to give credit to people, and every single one paid him back. He would start trading things like flour for some eggs, or butcher a cow and let it hang up in his freezer to cure exchange for some of the beef. It was hard times indeed. But after awhile it cleared up.
One day my Great Grandpa, Bill Mitchell, was sitting in his store behind the counter drinking an ice cold Coke-Cola, which conveniently, he got from his store’s water-cooled Coke-Cola machine. While sitting there minding his own business, a person from the Oregon State Department of Transportation walked up to him.
The man said to him “Are you Bill Mitchell?”
Grondpa replied, “Yes I am.”
“Then sir,” said the man from the State Department of Transportation, “you need to move the gas pumps you have outside back a few feet.”
“Why do I have to move them back?” asked Grandpa “I am not paving the road. Also, they are certainly not in my way.”
The state man said, “Because, Sir, they are in the way of us paving the road.”
“So, I don’t care; pave the road if you want.” was Grandpa’s cool response.
The state man was getting flustered at Grandpa for not doing what he was asking. He responded to Grandpa in a strained voice, “5ir, those two gas pumps are in the way of us paving the road! Please move them back.”
Grandpa responded in his cool tones “If you want those two gas pumps moved back then you move them back.1I
The state man ground his teeth loudly, and in an unkind voice he said, “I will come back tomorrow to talk to you again.”
The next day, like he promised, the man from the state department came back. What happened in the conversation was pretty much like the day before, except this time the conversation ended with the man from the state department yelling, “Fine! Have it your way, We will just pave those two gas pumps as well!”
The man turned to leave and said “We will be starting in week. If they are not moved, they will be under asphalt!” and the man left.
The paving of the road went pretty smoothly, except for the paving around Grandpa’s two gas pumps, which were now two feet shorter, because they were in the road and the state man followed through on his threat.
One day in 1969, Grandpa was sitting in his store when robbers with guns came in to rob him. They had him put all his money he had at the store in a bag. Then while they were making their escape, they decided to bring him along to make sure he did not call the police. They had him strip his clothes off, and then they taped him up with duct tape which they found in the store. They then picked him up and roughly shoved him in the back of the car. Then when they got in the car, one of them decided that they should blindfold him. So one of them had to reach behind the seat and blind fold him, while he laid in a shape not unlike that of twisted pretzel. Then they drove off an old windy road so he could not remember the way they went. When they neared Cottage Grove, however, they let him out and drove off. Grandpa had to walk two miles to the nearest house to call his wife to bring him a new pair of trousers and give him a ride home.
Unfortunately this took a big toll on his body and he died six months later.
Lorane Service Station; Mitchell Store: Lorane Family Store
by Pat Edwards
In 1932, Bill and Hattie Mitchell sold the property that sat across Territorial Road from their house to Hattie’s brother, Earl C. Herendeen. He built a small building there to house a barber shop and service station with living quarters attached.
In 1934, Herendeen sold the property and building back to Bill Mitchell who enlarged it and established a grocery store and service station. It was named the Lorane Service Station and was referred to as Mitchell’s Store.
Every time the county put another layer of asphalt on Territorial Road in the early years after it was paved, they approached Bill Mitchell and told him that he couldn’t have his gas pumps that close to the road. Bill would say, “I didn’t raise the road! If you want the gas pumps moved you buy them or move them for me.” They wouldn’t agree to that, but would invariably give him a variance. Next time that they put a new coat on the road, they would again approach Bill. They’d say “You can’t;” Bill would say “I didn’t do this,” and the county finally gave in and allowed the pumps to stay where they were ‒ about a foot below the surface of the road.
Bill Mitchell had the reputation of being a “nice man.” He was known as a man who “never knew a stranger,” and the store was a well-used meeting place for those who wanted to warm their hands at the wood stove and catch up on the gossip. It was a friendly store because Bill made it that way.
Bill and Hattie Mitchell operated the store until his death in 1969. The family continued operation until Hattie’s death in 1977, when the store was sold to Jim and Pat Edwards. The Edwards changed the name to the Lorane Family Store. Jim was a former grocery and meat manager for Mayfair Markets in the Eugene area. For the first few years, Jim continued to work as a meat cutter for Mayfair while Pat ran the Lorane Family Store. After Mayfair sold its local stores, Jim went to work for West Lane Thriftway in Veneta as a meat cutter for two days a week and has since run the store with the help of Nancy O’Hearn, and an assortment of others including Michelle Doughty, Marna Hing, Kandi Karsh, Sheila Mc Donald, Marilyn Wenger Cooper, Debbie Davis, Anna Davis, Chris Keeler, Melissa Keeler, Kathy Warden, Paula Warden May, Jeramie Warden, Jamie Cooper, Shaunna Doughty, Beverly Foster, Cynthia Nickel, Heidi O’Hearn, Kim Edwards, Rollin Hardie, Barbara Robinson, Tayla Raye Martin, Kayla Pinson, Stacy Larsen, Deanne Ewoniuk, Tia Spath, Hannah Edwards, Tracie DeBoer and Kevin Stevens (our newest “family” members/staff) not to mention most of the other Edwards children and grandchildren and most likely a few others. When Jim took over the store full time, Pat went to work for the University of Oregon in the Institute of Neuroscience.
Over the years, it was obvious that the old building was slowly sinking into the Upper Siuslaw flowing behind it. It had no foundation and the customers used to tease that the Edwards located the Pepsi coolers in the back of the store so that they would sell more pop, since the slant of the old wooden plank floors seemingly propelled the customers in that direction. After careful consideration, Jim Edwards ordered a 36′ x 80′ prefabricated steel building and laid a heavy concrete pad to the south and behind the store to build it on. The construction of the new store began October, 1993. Jim did most of the work himself. The old store continued operation for 10 months until August, 1994, when a group of family and friends began moving the merchandise from the old store to the new one. Shortly afterwards, the old store was demolished. It was a bittersweet time for the Edwards.
Because the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ruled that all aged underground gasoline storage tanks had to be dug up, inspected for leaks and replaced by the end of 1996, Jim decided to do that at the time he was building the new store. Fortunately, there was little leakage from the old underground tanks on the site, unlike many others in other parts of Lane County. Many small businesses gave up their gas pumps because the high cost of replacing the tanks was prohibitive. Because the Lorane General Store was one of those that stopped selling gas, Jim and Pat felt that they had to figure out a way of retaining their pumps. If they didn’t, the people of Lorane would not have a source of gasoline within 12 miles. The cost of replacing and maintaining underground tanks, however, dictated that the Edwards use the above-ground tanks, instead. The old tanks were pulled out and a large 9,000 gallon partitioned above-ground tank was installed
Since they bought the store in 1977, the Edwards have greatly increased the merchandise inventory and the variety of merchandise they carry in order to provide as many conveniences as possible for the community. The Lorane Family Store has carried at one time or another a full line of groceries, gasoline, livestock feeds, hardware, fresh-ground coffee, hot lunchtime items, movie rentals, sundries, local wines, greeting cards, toys, automotive fluids and supplies, hunting licenses, UPS sending and pickup service, U-Haul rentals and fax and copy services.
From Sawdust and Cider to Wine (2006) by Pat Edwards
And, now even a community book exchange