Pretty much every Liberty County native and most newcomers have passed by Anderson’s Feed and Seed in Walthourville, and most probably have stopped a time or two to shop there. The store is different now than it was in years past, but it is still a busy place. This is a tribute to the lady who started the original business in 1958.
Lyndol Helmuth was born July 29, 1922, on a Bulloch County farm. She graduated from Claxton High School with top honors. In 1942, she married William Hollis Anderson, a local farm boy. In 1943, he was drafted and served in Europe during World War II. Hollis, Lyndol and their daughters, Melinda and Deborah, were living on a farm in Evans County when Hollis got a job at Camp Stewart. He left before daylight and sometimes got home after dark. Because of this, many farm operations fell to Lyndol. She learned to milk a cow and, from then on, it became her job. She kept plenty of milk to drink, churned fresh butter and sold the excess. Lyndol learned to plow the fields with the tractor and became good at it. She had some of the straightest rows around. In addition to planting corn, tobacco and cotton, she grew all the vegetables they needed and canned them for the winter. She made their ketchup and even mayonnaise. Jellies, jams and preserves were made from wild blackberries, plums, peaches and pears. Very few items had to be purchased in town.
Melinda recalled that after the season’s tobacco was sold, her mother would “splurge” and buy some real bologna, sliced off a large roll. She fried it to make sandwiches with store-bought Sunbeam bread. What a treat! After all, they had to eat pork chops, homemade smoked sausage, beef roasts, steaks, hamburgers, fresh vegetables, biscuits, corn-bread cakes, and homemade cakes, pies and ice cream. Seldom did they have the pleasure of eating processed or “fast-food” treats.
Hollis became tired of the long drive to work and they moved to “Wheelerville” in 1957, just inside Long County on Highway 84. Lyndol became a Stanley Products dealer. In 1958, they purchased the old Fletcher Store in Walthourville, which today is the site of a restaurant. In 1962, they bought land across the road and built a home and a new store that were connected. It was named Anderson’s Grocery. It truly was an old-fashioned general store. Lyndol tried to stock whatever the customers wanted. She sold gasoline, kerosene, oil, many groceries, fishing supplies, and animal and chicken feed.
Many young soldiers lived in the community and visited the store. Sometimes they needed items or food and simply did not have the money to pay. Lyndol provided free food to many in need during those lean years. When Mother’s Day arrived, in addition to cards from her two daughters, she always received a box full of them from people scattered all over the world who remembered her generosity. When local children came into the store and helped themselves to ice cream, candy bars and drinks, they thought the goodies were free. They did not know Lyndol was keeping a tab on them under their parents’ accounts.
Lyndol was an expert seamstress and made all the girls’ clothing — panties, slips, dresses, pajamas, blue jeans, dungarees and coats. Melinda, Liberty County’s chief magistrate, said her mother still made panties for her even after she married. Some of the dresses were made from “chicken linen,” the cloth sacks that chicken feed came in. The girls would go to the store with their father and pick out the sacks they wanted their dresses made from.
Cooking was one of Lyndol’s greatest pleasures, and she was good at it. If one ever had the chance to eat a piece of her homemade German chocolate cake, they never forgot it. When the girls were in school, they volunteered their mother to bring food for every party. Lyndol enjoyed watching the cooking channels on television. She attended every school event the girls were involved in and every PTA meeting.
One of her greatest joys in life was planting and growing flowers. When I moved to Walthourville in 1971, I saw a large clump of daylilies in bloom at the back door of the store. She shared some of them with me and that started my love of daylilies.
Those asked to describe Lyndol Anderson always answer the same way — she was caring, responsible, compassionate, dependable, trustworthy, determined and down-to-earth. She loved her church, the Walthourville Baptist Church, and attended regularly when she was able.
Lyndol became Walthourville’s first mayor in 1974, when the city was incorporated with an all-female city council. City water was provided to all homeowners under her leadership. Noel Osteen provided legal counsel to the new mayor and council. He was paid sweetly — by pounds of homemade pecan divinity, chocolate fudge and peanut brittle, all made by the mayor. He said that was some of the best pay he ever received.
Lyndol’s husband and soul mate, affectionately known as Sweetie, passed away 20 years ago on May 31, 1994, at the age of 72. She missed him terribly.
Lyndol’s health began failing as the years passed and she could not keep up with the demands of Anderson’s Grocery. She leased the store, and it became Anderson’s Feed and Garden Supply. She still lived in the adjoining house, and it was not uncommon to find her in the store, just “helping out” until her health no longer allowed it. She also worked in her garden for as long as she could. As her health failed, Lyndol most missed her morning walks, which were several miles long.
I stopped by her home in mid-July 2012, just before her 90th birthday, to take her picture. She had just come home from the eye doctor. She agreed to have her photo taken in her flower garden. She did not look in the mirror to check her appearance or fix her hair. As she posed for her photo, she said, “I am what I am.”
Mrs. Lyndol Anderson, almost 92 years old, passed away Saturday night, June 7, 2014. Her funeral was held Wednesday, June 11, at Walthourville Baptist Church, and she was laid to rest beside her Sweetie in the Hinesville City Cemetery. A good friend like Mrs. Anderson is like a good bra — hard to find, supportive, comfortable and always close to your heart. Evans County’s loss in 1957 certainly was Liberty County’s gain.