Photographs > The Grocery

Alexis Culver

These photographs were taken in the old Culver Grocery Store in North Webster, Indiana. The grocery opened in 1939 and continued to stay in business for 33 years, run by my grandparents, Arnold and Gladys Culver. The store supplied basic amenities, such as tobacco, canned goods, deli food, fishing supplies, and gasoline, as well as Webster Lake vacation souvenirs.

After the store closed in 1972 items continued to sit on the shelves until they were gradually used, one can of beans at a time. The full cans were replaced with empty mason jars, boxes, and as the years crept on, styrofoam take-out containers, unused gifts, and family hand downs. The once functioning store became a storage space for items too precious or too useful to burn in the barrel out back.

I used to explore the store as a kid, pulling things off the shelves and asking about them, often taking little figurines and mementos home with me. I returned to the store two decades later and found the space packed tighter than I remembered. I took my camera and started exploring and documenting. I found hymnals, army tags, unopened tobacco, hundreds of mason jars, family photographs, and unworn high heels. The more I photographed the more I learned about the lives of my grandparents. I hope these images are successful in communicating Gladys and Arnold's story to you.

All photographs were taken with a 4x5 view camera on transparency film in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.