Can A Gas Station Remember A Murder?

Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market, where Emmett Till allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant (pictured here), September 17, 1955, Money, Mississippi, Getty Images.

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Can A Gas Station Remember A Murder?

by Dave Tell
Southern Cultures, Vol. 23, No. 3: Things

“Ben Roy’s reveals the fickleness of southern things: while such things can bear witness to the realities of the southern past . . . in this case, the affective power of southern things hinges on their capacity to elide essential features of that past.”

The ruins of Bryant’s Grocery & Meat Market and the beautifully restored Ben Roy’s Service Station stand sixty-seven feet apart from each other on the southern edge of Money, Mississippi, the small hamlet visited by Emmett Till in August 1955. Both stores are now owned by a trio of siblings with a personal investment in the memory of Till’s murder. Annette Morgan, Harry Tribble, and Martin Tribble are the three children of Ray Tribble, an unrepentant juror from the 1955 trial of Till killers Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam. After the trial, the elder Tribble excelled in business, the family accrued farmland around Money and, in the mid 1980s, the Tribble brothers purchased the two-story building that once housed Bryant’s Grocery. After Annette and Harry purchased Ben Roy’s Service Station in 2003, the family owned everything in Money except the Baptist church and the decommissioned post office. While only Bryant’s Grocery had a direct link to the murder of Emmett Till, both stores have come to play a large, if competing, role in the commemoration of the crime.