Thelma and her Quaint Store-McLean, VA

I didn’t know her last name but in McLean, VA it seemed that virtually everyone knew of Thelma’s General Store.  It was in the heavily traveled and traffic congested Northern Virginia at the intersection of Lewinville and Spring Hill Road.   Thelma’s went up of course when McLean was a distant suburb 12 miles south of Washington, DC.

Going into Thelma’s was a real treat because it brought us into another world in the distant past.  Outside was a gasoline pump that had not been used for years.  Travelers could fill up but had to pay cash at times without even coming into the store.  Service here depended on how busy the place was inside.

To your left as you entered the store were postcards and cheap tacky souvenirs of the Washington area.  Want a Coke?  Go operate the antique vending machine and press the lever down.  Out rolled the thick curved bottles that I have not seen elsewhere for many years.  There was a limited selection of groceries.  Thelma packed Ice Cream in those white cardboard containers as customers ordered  from the six or seven varieties.  There was nothing Thelma prepacked or as seen in grocery or convenience stores.

At the cashier’s counter was a small selection of over the counter medications and bathroom items.   Finally, there was Suzie, an senior Basset Hound, who roamed around the store at intervals throughout the day.   No doubt building codes prohibited dogs in stores.  Nevertheless, Thelma was there before the city government passed the codes.

I am no suggesting you readers should go out of your way to visit Thelma’s; but if you’re in the area it might be interesting.


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