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About Us

Welcome to Campbell Stories, an online gathering place where we Campbells and others affiliated with us have come together to share some of our stories. We like to think of our site as the Web version of an old-time general store. Though we’re not selling any groceries here, we are creating a congenial place where you can stop by and visit.

We like this general store motif, because my father’s family was full of storekeepers and storytellers, which often seem to go together. They held court behind their counters, sharing tales with the regulars and the occasional visitors alike. Old-time general stores like the ones my family owned were more than just places to pick up a quart of milk. They were familiar, friendly places where people came to share news and gossip—to tell stories.

My grandfather, Arthur Harrison Campbell, opened his first store in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina sometime around 1915 and eventually owned seven, so I am told. Several of his children, including my father, followed his lead. I grew up in a grocery store on Main Street in North East, Maryland, in the fifties and sixties, watching the constant comings-and-goings and listening to the stories. The regulars were always there, sitting by the coal stove in the back room in winter and on the icehouse porch in summer, sharing their tales with each other and with passersby who stopped to visit. It was a busy place.

One of the stores in our family, Campbell’s Corner, was owned by my father’s sister Mary Owen. Located in Oxford, Pennsylvania, it was not only a grocery store but also a music center, where my uncle and aunt, Alex Campbell and Ola Belle Campbell Reed, broadcast their radio show from a studio in the back. They told stories with their music. My sister Mavis bought this store, renamed it Campbell’s Market, and told her own stories from behind the counter.

There are lots of ways to tell stories—speaking, writing, singing, and creating other types of art. All art is, in a way, a story. My brother Lon wrote about his experiences as a funeral escort for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He traveled home with the bodies of soldiers who had died in battle and represented the Army at the funerals. My mother writes about her childhood growing up at the base of Bullhead Mountain near Sparta, North Carolina, and about her life along the river in North East.

My brothers Hugh and Zane are both amazing songwriters, sharing in music the stories of their lives. Zane also paints on found objects—pieces of tree trunks, old mirror frames. Sometimes he varnishes in things that he finds on his walks—feathers, seed pods, leaves. Hugh builds furniture from reclaimed barn timber, wood that comes marked with the cuts and scrapes of its own stories, and transforms it into something new. Zane continues the stories on some of this furniture in the scenes and designs he paints.

Everyone tells stories, and we want to share ours. So here, behind the electronic counter in this modern-day version of the general store, we are carrying on our family’s storytelling tradition by sharing some of our writings, songs, furniture, and art. We hope you enjoy them. We are glad you stopped by to visit.

- Alta Campbell


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