It’s almost noon on an overcast April day and paying customers are increasingly interrupting my conversation with David Wood. So while he sells cheese and sausage and makes sandwiches, I wander around his store. I admire the taxidermy in the nook by his office, look at the shelves full of antiques, and wonder why someone would want to buy booze in a bottle shaped like the Eiffel Tower or a bust of Napoleon. Occasionally, I stop to take a photograph.
Del Wood’s Country Store, at 5305 Wayne Terrace in Madison, has been in business since 1970. It began as a cheese store, but over the years its stock has expanded to include all sorts of things neither edible or potable. The sprawling store is filled with antiques, souvenirs, and collectibles. It’s also filled with history and memories, but they’re not for sale. Just strike up a conversation with David Wood, and, if he has time to talk, you’ll be able to savor a host of stories about bygone days.
Unlike some members of my family, I lack the inquisitiveness that compels them to open drawers and peek in closets when they visit someone’s home. That’s probably why, as I perambulate about the large, store chock-a-block with stuff, it never occurs to me to pull back the throw rugs by the bookshelves on the west side of Del Wood’s Country Store to discover what lies underneath them.
Before I leave, however, Wood reveals the translucent panes of plastic beneath the rugs. They are, after all, part of why I’ve stopped to visit his store. Back in the 1960s, Wood explains, go-go dancers displayed their talents atop these panels, which were illuminated from below.
In the early 1950s, the building where David Wood now runs his business, was, he says Country Cousin’s Tavern. For the next two decades, it housed a series of bars and nightclubs. The chronology is a bit vague, but the names and the memories they evoke aren’t: Dewey Weum, Terry Volk, DJ’s, the Bullseye, the Whiskey a go-go, and, of course, the Black Lemon. Dewey and Terry are apparently still around,and if I had world enough and time, I might track them down to hear more about the good old days. But for now, I’ll work with what I’ve learned from Wood and a few other people who used to hang out at the Black Lemon.
To be continued…