May 5, 2015 Comments (4) Dogs, Guns, Outdoor Art & Literature, Uncategorized




These days it just takes a “click and ship” and you have whatever your heart desires…. for old Grouse Hunters like me, we love the old ways.  Like a Norman Rockwell painting of days of old..I can see Main Street America presenting its glory in my mind every time I power up and search on my gadgets.  Modern conveniences which are built on fast food thinking and homogenized beliefs diluting  our potential to interact with each other and share a smile or a hello. I knew of a place which would be a destination today if it only survived the test of time… STEVENS HARDWARE.

Growing up in Oneonta, NY ..my family was part of the business scene on Main Street in this picturesque town nestled in the valley systems of Central New York.   4 Traffic lights, a multitude of bars and a few restaurants situate themselves to provide this small College town a nice meld to give it a unique aura.  Amongst these businesses stood an area Icon which was, Stevens Hardware Store.    At its end it was in operation for 130+ years, and at its helm was an old Grouse Hunting ,WWII hero…”Johnny” Stevens.

John O. Stevens was a POW in World War II, whose plane was shot down in Switzerland.   He was decorated and honored later in life and was respected by all who knew him.   After the war he returned to Oneonta to work for the business in which his Grandfather started as a Wagon Wheel repair business.   This business later transitioned into in outdoor sporting good shop, catering to hunting and fishing as well as camping.   In my time spent on that part of Main Street, it was a place that I loved to go to.

Front View of Old Stevens Hardware from Main St.

The Old Stevens Hardware when It was open- Notice the FILSON Sign in the window!

Those of you who are or were lucky to venture into a cozy outdoor shop know what I am about to describe.  Wide planked wood flooring  which made a hollow sound with every step as you step into the main floor. There was a creek with every step you made.  I can remember walking in and right in front of me was a free standing rack with leg waders and Hip waders along with trout nets at first glance.   To the right long glass display cases stood with Trout lures, gun ammo filled as if it was candy being displayed.   Right behind the glass display was Johnnys Guns on racks against the wall.   It was those racks which let me into a world of classics like Parker, LC Smith, Fox, Lefever, Browning etc….  Anyone in the area who wanted to sell a gun would bring their guns to Johnny to sell on consignment.   My dad and I would go in there to see what Doubles he had and buy our ammo or bait to fish.   He was eager to describe each gun and tell stories of the areas sporting past as he always asked, “where you guys hunting/fishing”?    I can remember a vintage smell of leather and rubber, as I walked up the 3 or 4 steps to the next level where the Boots, camping supplies, small canoes and the FILSON DEALER section was.   If you are a Grouse Hunter, then you know if a place stocks Filson, you are among friends!  Chaps, Vests, shirts and dogs supplies were in abundance and filled this section and filled my wish list every time I went in there.

Hills of Oneonta, NY

The road leading off Main Street into the Hills Around Oneonta, NY

It wasn’t too long before we would see Johnny and His German Shorthair out in some of the covers we frequented.   Well into his 70’s at that point, I was beyond impressed at how mobile he was and how sharp his hunting skills were. He lived on Goodyear Lake and hunted some of the surrounding areas which we spent a lot of our Grouse days.  We always kidded with him trying to get his honey holes and true to any Grousers ways….he never gave us a shred of info!   As time went on and Johnny knew how serious we were about dogs and Grouse, he began to tell us stories of Grouse flying like Fireflies and Woodcock flights back in the day.   Literally a walking encyclopedia about Trout and Upland ways as he knew his stuff …I was proud to call him a friend.

John was recognized by The Ruffed Grouse Society as Well as Trout Unlimited for his lifes contributions to the sport and Outdoorsmen that knew him.   Being unable to keep up with the advent of Online competition, and himself into his 90’s,  STEVENS HARDWARE closed its doors after 130 years.   Shortly thereafter, John Stevens passed away at the age of 94 surrounded by his loved ones.

We are all lucky to have people we can look up to.  In my case it was a man, his dog, and the love for an industry which set the pace for me to appreciate the fine handle of a double, the durability of a well made garment, and a lifetime in the pursuit in the King of all game birds…THE GROUSE.


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  1. Uplandish says:

    Great story, it took me back to all the old bait and tackle shops I used to haunt when I was a kid, that was my social network, the guys behind the counter would shoot the shit with you all day and barely slow down talking long enough to ring a customer up. They are all gone now, replaced by some big chain with name tagged clerks too busy to talk about anything unless its the next sale. I think America traded high standards in community for low prices, what a crummy deal.

    • Agreed Mike,
      thanks for the compliment! I am partly responsible as i also have co-created a social ecommerce platform soon to launch. You have described it so well…what you described was what some of us older generation guys lived with. Our Social Network was at a coffee shop, church, gun shop or bait shop. Its where those with a common interest joined and traded info or stories. We do not support MOM AND POP shops who tend to be a little more expensive, but look at what you can get for a few pennies more. PRICELESS

  2. D.J. Zor says:

    Great stuff. I’ve got a few old favorites and most of em are long gone. Schroeders in Two Rivers, Wi is still holding on though. I bought my first Red Wing boots there when I was 18. I still have em, two soles later, and they still take me where I need to go. Mom and Pops are where stories are shared and advice is found. The direction we are heading is rich in possessions but poor in community. Hopefully a few Stevens hardwares can survive long enough for folks to realize this and we can restore things before they go extinct.

    • Hey DJ,
      I dont know how I missed your great response…sorry. I’m on that same page bud. We traded in community for convenience….NOT GOOD. I continue to spend a few more dollars just to keep some favorites alive. We have to.

      Thanks for contributing..


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