When I was a little girl, the Webster Parish Library was located where the Children’s Center is today. I was allowed to check out five books at a time. I would go home, read all these books and next day return them to the library and check out five more.
The Double Dip
One of the nicest surprises occurred one day as a little girl and I left the library at the same time. I did not know her. A lady came out just as we crossed the street and called to us to stop a minute. We did and she asked if we would like an ice cream cone. Did we? She took us into Thad’s Double Dip and ordered a cone for each of us and one for herself. I had not had an ice cream cone in a long, long time and it was such a treat. I looked at the lady and thought that she must be rich to be able to buy three ice cream cones – 15 cents. She was Mrs. Griff Hortman and in later years I lived next door to her and found that she was just a lovely lady.
The Double Dip was on the corner just a couple of doors past West Bros. where I worked on Saturdays by the time I was thirteen. We had a lunch hour and a supper hour, but I only took a little time for lunch and no time off for supper. I was afraid I might miss a sale, and we were paid by what we sold.
For not more than fifteen cents a hamburger and a glass of milk could be purchased there. Once in a while I would order a coke instead of milk. If my sales had been good that morning occasionally I would order a Bama Pecan Pie, which was a little pie for a nickel. I waited until I got home that night to eat supper.
We opened for work at 7:30 and closed the doors at 9:30 unless it were Christmas or a busy night. After the doors closed we straightened the store, folding socks, underwear, and fastening belts to dresses with paper clips and turning the coat hangers all the same way. While we did that the regular employees totaled our individual sales and figured our pay. You had to sell $40 worth of merchandise to make $2.00 and $55 to make $2.25. If you were fortunate enough to sell the most of what was being “pushed” you would get an additional $1.00. Sometimes it would be blankets, or coats, or suits. Whatever they decided on.
The next week they picked the top ten sales people and they were called back for work on Saturday and about ten new ones were tried out. You were notified on Thursday if you were being used the next Saturday. If so, you went down to West’s and folded circulars on Thursday night for the boys to throw out the following day. No extra pay for those hours.
All the stores had back doors – West Bros., Morgan and Lindsey, Western Auto, Minden Mercantile. Customers came into the stores from both directions.
I have written about some of the funny things that occurred. One would be the woman who came in with several children, who had unusual names. I cannot remember all of them but one was named “Listerine” and the others had names of products, too.
It was a thrill to get that call on Thursday to work on Saturday. Often when I finally got home on Saturday night my feet would be so swollen I had to soak them in warm water so that I could go to Sunday School and church the next day. I would eat my supper while my feet soaked.
I remember when they first started withholding Social Security taxes from earnings. I was so disappointed to see the cent and a half or two cents on each dollar (2 cents really) come out of my $1.50 or my $2.00. I paid Mrs. Joe Oliphant $5 a month to ride back and forth to Shreveport to attend Meadows Draughon Business College, and a dime for each day I could get a sandwich and a glass of fruit juice across the street from the school. That Social Security upset my budget.
And now today that Social Security IS my budget since J.C. never worked where there was a pension.
Sometimes we stayed open later than 9:30, the time we generally closed. Working people often worked on Saturday and they shopped at night after they got off their jobs. It made us happy to see them come in for shoes, or long handled drawers, or hopefully, a suit. That made our checks higher at the time the commissions were figured.
Friends that I made during my years of Saturdays at West Bros. are still my friends today, such as George and Ruth Hicks Turner. She worked there and they offered me rides home at night and I was so proud because I was tired. Occasionally I will meet another that I worked with there during those last days of the thirties. One would be Daisy Pevy Conway. Not too long ago we had a nice visit, remembering.
Well, West Bros. is gone, and the shop there is called “Hrs Bridal,” but it will always be the site of West Bros to me. Just as the hole in the row of businesses will be “Andress Motors Company” to me as I remember the decades that both my husband and I worked there.
Well they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I qualify as an old dog, so I’ll just keep on remembering the same stores in the same old places, OK?
Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.