Rockport Merchants-Mid 20th Century.
James J Reid Merchandise.
Stat by jrd. Top Photo by Jimmy Reid. Others by ddd and jrd.
Photo Above-Jerry R. Durham and Loraine G. Reid-Photo by Jimmy Reid.
Photo Above-Loraine G. Reid and her daughter Cindy-Photo by ddd.
Wow, have this one a little on the bright side. Hope that you don't need sunglasses. The picture on the left is of the old Redman Building. It is where Jamie ran the James J. Reid Merchandise operation prior to his retirement. Picture was taken in early September of the year 2004.
James J. Reid trained on how to be a merchant under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Mrs. Kevil. In the late forties/early fifties, Jamie learned how to be a grocer and he later took over the operation of the old Kevil Merchandise Store and ran the operation until the early sixties. Am guessing here on when the move from the old Kevil Building to the newer Redman Building took place and invite replies as to a more exact date.
In the late forties, this Redman Building had a neighbor. On the left side was an attached building. As you can tell by the picture, there would not have been much room for a building. What is now parking places, a long and narrow building existed. There was a sidewalk between the road and the building. The sidewalk ran beside the building and behind it and toward the river passing the old jail. Then a walkway on a railroad overpass (Overhead Bridge) over to another sidewalk. This sidewalk passed the Elder's, the Graves' and the Peck Harris', but on the opposite side of the road. Nippy Iller lived under the hill behind the Elder's. The sidewalk wound around and down and up the hill and to the Jackson Slough side of Rockport. Before going up the hill, there were homes of more Harris' and Maddox's. At the top of the hill a person would pass houses belonging to the Townsley's, Maple's, Key's, Bailey's, Wilkerson's and on the opposite side of the road was more Maple's, more Key's, Drennon's and a few more that I have left out. At one time Rockport had many a mile of sidewalks.
Would you care to venture a guess on one use of this old and long, narrow building mentioned in the above paragraph? Yes, it was a theater and we looked forward to the weekend so that we could take in a western movie. The front part of the theater had these large pictures that would depict the movies that would soon play. You have seen this type of pictures. They were sometimes three of four feet high and a few feet wide and there would be a picture of a movie star or an action scene. We learned that if a cowboy was depicted, he would always be looking at us and as we moved the look was still toward us. It worked for cowgirls also and other people and especially the likes of the Wolfman and Frankenstein. Some of these pictures were even enclosed inside frames with glass pane coverings. We enjoyed looking at the, mostly western, scenes and would dream of seeing the movie that would soon be playing. Anything to get a kid to want to see the movie.
This old building may have been a dance hall at one time, but that is only a guess. I know there was a curtain that would open prior to the start of the movie and thus, a stage. Seems to me that there was a balcony above the stage, but that may have been in the front part.
The old movie theater was torn down, probably in the late forties, possibly in the fifties. It may have burned and then was torn down, but suspect the interior wood deteriorated to the point of having to be torn down. By the time that Jamie moved to the Redman Building, the vacant lot on the left side of the building, where the old theatre building stood, made a good parking lot. This may have been one of the first off-street parking places in downtown Rockport.
The move to the Redman Building made for a much better "Grocery Type" operation. Now, we have a store that could better be designed for a Grocery Store rather than a General Merchandise Store. While it was now, more of a grocery, Jamie still continued with the General Merchandise name. Lighting was much improved and aisles in the main part of the store held grocery items. The cash register area was much smaller and stood on the left as one entered the store. Of course the old "Credit Type" books still existed and credit was still a very important part of the business. A large meat case was located at the rear of the store and a shopper had a chance to actually shop or an opportunity to be selective on a meat purchase. Next to the meat case was a vegetable case, and while tomatoes were not a readily available item in the winter months, one could just about get carrots and lettuce at about any time. A small freezer was placed close to the "Checkout Counter" and it contained a nice assortment of frozen items. An open top of the freezer amazed me, but it allowed easy access to "Frozen Dinners" or other frozen products. Guess we had now added two new items to the English Language. "Checkout Counters" and "Frozen Dinners". Now don't exactly remember pushing a shopping cart around the store, but it seems that Jamie had at least a couple of shopping carts for customer use. Grocery Merchandising is changing and it will not be very many more years until another great merchant proved that a "Customer" was the most valuable asset a store of any type could have. It was just a decade later that Sam Walton forever changed the shopping concept of Merchandising...
If you are still here, thanks for looking and reading. I hope that this short trip has been worth your valuable time and that you will come again. I do have pictures of "Thelma's Place" and of "Martin Durham's Grocery" and may do something with those picture. If the weather stays "wintry" and there is any demand, then will work up more stats. Again, thanks for coming this far and now will go.