For a swath of the mid-20th century, M&J Super Markets dotted the map in Chattanooga.
The accompanying photo, taken in 1961, is one of six local M&J stores in the early 1960s. Old-timers may remember M&J locations in the early 1960s included supermarkets on East Main Street, Rossville Boulevard, Ringgold Road, Frazier Avenue, Cherokee Boulevard and Highway 58. In the mid-60s M&J stores were added in Signal Mountain, Brainerd Village and Highland Plaza, according to newspaper archives.
"That really looks like Murray Hills at Highway 58 to me," Sam Hall, curator of ChattanoogaHistory.com, said of the photo in an email. "However, that building no longer remains there."
The photo is part of a collection of uncaptioned vintage newspaper photos from the News-Free Press, only identified by year and photographer, preserved digitally at ChattanoogaHistory.com.
Newspaper reports indicate the owners started building the M&J Super Market chain here in the early 1950s. The stores were eventually sold to the owners of Pruett's Food Town group in the late 1970s.
M&J stands for Mulkey & Jackson, the surnames of the company's founders, Millis Mulkey and Jay H. Jackson.
According to his newspaper obituary in 1998, Jackson was 90 years old at the time of his death. He spent 50 years in the grocery business and retired at age 78, the newspaper reported. He was a longtime member of the Red Bank Baptist Church and the Rivermont Golf and Country Club.
Mulkey was called a "country boy" from Tunnel Hill in an editorial tribute in the Chattanooga News-Free Press after his death in 1987. After the M&J stores were sold, Mulkey had a successful second career as an executive in the Dyson-Trewhitt real estate firm. He was a member of the Brainerd Baptist Church, a Rotarian and a director of the Hamilton County Council on Aging.
The M&J Super Markets billed themselves as being "owned and operated by home folks." In the early years, the stores also touted customer comfort in their newspaper advertisements noting that all their locations were air-conditioned.
The stores were also known for giving away S&H Green Stamps, which customers dutifully pasted into books and ultimately traded for household goods at one of two redemption centers in the city.
The regional grocery chain also claimed to have low, low prices. For example, a 1961 display ad spotlighted Campbell's Tomato Soup for 10 cents a can, a 1-pound box of saltines for 19 cents, a 4-pound bag of apples for 39 cents and chuck roast for 39 cents a pound.
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Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.