Before the big grocery stores, when the population of Windham was around 5,000 (instead of more than three times that like it is now), corner stores were the lifeblood of Windham’s several “villages” or communities.

In South Windham, Patsy’s sold groceries, Italian sandwiches, fruit and such; at Newhall, Thayer’s was the place to go for grain, gasoline, groceries and the daily gossip; at Windham Center, Hawkes’ groceries catered to the folks in the middle of town and even served as the post office for a spell. Heading north, there was Seavey’s (near the rotary) and in North Windham, Boody’s store at the corner of 115 and 302 ruled for decades, supplying everything from food to clothing. Other village stores of Windham history were at Baker’s Corner, Morrell’s Corner, and long ago, at the corner of today’s Depot Street and River Road.

East Windham, mostly on the Falmouth Road, had a couple of settlements called Little Scotland and Ireland, and its own special store – special to many who can remember Graffam’s.

About a dozen years ago, a resident brought a Graffam’s store calendar into the Windham Historical Society. As a lifelong resident, I had heard of Graffam’s but had never been there so I started asking folks what they remembered. I could barely remember Phil Graffam, son of the owner, who also ran a store right beside the first one on Falmouth Road. Here’s what I heard from those I questioned:

“Graffam’s was a landmark in East Windham. You either went to Graffam’s or you went to Russell Hall’s (corner of Falmouth and Gray roads). At Graffam’s they used to sell penny candy and I used to turn in my (soda) bottles for comic books – 10 cents if they had a cover, 5 cents if they didn’t. I bought the 5 cent ones.

“They also sold Italian sandwiches, cold soda and beer. The son, Phil, took over the penny candy business and as I remember, also had models (planes, etc.) he sold when he got older.

“They had a house next door and that’s where we went to watch the fights on ‘color’ TV – by using a plastic piece of stuff that had horizontal lines of yellow, red, blue and green. It fit over the screen of the TV back in the days black and white.”

Graffam’s Store has become history, along with the villages of old Windham. Each village had several things in common: a few houses, perhaps a church, a one-room schoolhouse and a corner store that served the neighborhood. Of the old-time corner or village stores, only Thayer’s in Newhall remains.

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