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Windes Stores

See also Marcus Bernhart

For the early history of Barry County, click here

In the autumn of 1929, Harry learned that a clothing store in Cassville, population 1016, the county-seat of Barry County, just seven miles north of Washburn, was for sale. The last week in October, about the time of the great Wall Street collapse, he and Margaret drove to Missouri in their new I930 Buick Touring Sedan, over "dirt and gravel roads not yet ready for automobile traffic" Harry wrote to Russel, complaining of "fording streams and rivers and having two flat tires on the way." Margaret, of course, did all the driving, since Harry never learned how and didn't see any reason to learn since "Ona" was such a fine driver.

In Cassville that late October they signed a contract for purchasing the Walker Brothers store, including the building, the fixtures, and the stock of merchandise as of March I, I930. The purchase price was "$10,250, all cash at closing after a deposit of $2000.00." They then purchased a substantially large early 1920s two story home six blocks away from the store, with five bedrooms and two baths, located on an acre of land. The cash price for the home was $2500, and the contract called for "closing the contract on or before March 1,1930." They took an "option" to buy a smaller one-story three bedroom home on ten acres of land just a block away, a place they were hoping Russel and Bess would enjoy.

A week later, they returned by train, leaving their Buick to the trusted care of brother Robert. Within four months they sold their businesses, sold their home, and traded the home they had built for Bess and Russel for several hundred acres of land between Altus and Lawton, Oklahoma, land which was potentially oil rich, but otherwise worth very little. They signed leases with the Kerr-McGee Oil Company, allowing it to drill for oil over a ten year period, and if oil were found, to pay generous royalties.

In early March, Harry and Margaret returned on the Frisco to Missouri, and after moving into their spacious home, they both began to prepare for the grand opening of the new H.R. Windes & Son Department Store. The building had to be significantly renovated, and Harry had carpenters build a number of balconies to house menswear, hats, and his and Russel's offices. Then he and Margaret had to restock the store completely. The job took much longer than they had anticipated, and the new store did not open until August 1, right in the middle of the Great Depression.

Russel could not join his mother and father until early June because his employer, Frank Staton, had a heart attack and asked him to manage the store until he recovered. Meanwhile, Bess was pregnant with me, and wanted to wait until I was born to move to Missouri. Consequently, Russel and Bess did not arrive in Cassville until a month after I was born, on August II, 1930, Bess coming by train and Russel by car. The two of them moved into their new home, a block west of Margaret and Harry, the following week.

Harry Rayl Windes was a shrewd businessman, as was his young barely twenty-eight year old son. Harry knew everyone for miles around, and Russel knew the ones Harry didn't know. Both men were warm, friendly, good looking, and highly credible. They had an amazingly successful first year of business in Cassville. The new store, which occupied an area of about five thousand square feet, was on the public square in Cassville, just across the street (State Highway 37, or "Main Street") from the Barry County Courthouse. The Cassville public square and the four blocks adjacent to it, housed almost all of the businesses of the community in 1930. The town, named after Lewis Cass, was one-hundred years old that year. It was situated at the middle of a confluence of seven valleys, and was located in an utterly charming and attractive setting of hills and streams.

Around the public square were grocery stores (Barber's and Haskins), general merchandise stores (Windes, Rowland's and Hadley's), Riddle's Shoe Shop, a Western Auto Store, drug stores (Wooten's and Miller's), The Music Store and Cafe, the Ozark Movie Theatre, a "five and dime store (Canadays), two newspapers (The Cassville Democrat and The Cassville Republican), the Barry County Hotel, the Ben Irwin Hotel, the Ice Plant, two hardware stores (Stubblefield's and Mercer's), two banks (The First National Bank and the Barry County Bank), a "Community Building," (containing an auditorium, city offices and the volunteer fire department), four restaurants (Shore's, Henley's, Babcock's, and The Farmer's), and a number of business and professional offices on the second floors of the buildings, law offices, dental offices, physician offices.

The first year H.R. Windes & Son did business in Cassville (August I, 1930 to July 31, 1931), the store sold $36,400 of merchandise. During the final pre-depression year of its predecessor, Walker Brothers, total sales were $28,600. Profits were difficult to determine, but Harry and Russel took salaries of $200 per month from the store, and the store paid their other cost of living monthly bills, including groceries, utilities, telephone, and, of course, clothing. Existing records show the two families spent an averaged total of forty-four dollars each month on groceries; telephone service for the store and the two residences averaged nine dollars; and water and electric were eleven dollars each month. The value of the dollars has expanded fifteen times its value of 1930. Therefore, translated into 1990s dollars, the H.R. Windes & Son store in 1930-1931 sold approximately $540,000 worth of merchandise, and Harry and Russel paid themselves thirty thousand dollars each for the year. Gross sales increased every year except one during the 1930s, the exception being 1937 when a recession occurred. In 1941, the final year for the Cassville store, total sales were $48,000 (720,000, 1990s dollars).

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The "store" was an interesting merchandising, financial, and social institution. Existing photographs taken in 1932 help to describe it. There were four major departmental areas. There was a main entry area, about thirty by sixty feet, which was given to general merchandise: hundreds of bolts of "piece goods" cloth (cottons, silks, wools, ginghams, flax, rayons, cheesecloths, and so on. Many people still made some of their own clothes.); sewing and darning and knitting needs like thread, yarn and needles and thimbles; a large counter of ribbons; a section for bedding-sheets and pillow cases; blankets and quilts; pillows, both sleeping and decorative; a section for linens-towels and washcloths; a counter for "notions and toiletries," like facial and hand cremes, nail polish, and soaps; a section for "ladies smocks and aprons;" a section for "rugs and linoleums;" a counter for "belts, galluses and suspenders," a section for luggage, including "hat cases" and a section for "men's and women's hosiery."

A second major area housed women's apparel-hats, dresses, skirts and blouses, suits, coats and jackets, undergarments, "sleepwear," and costume jewelry. An "alterations" shop was located in the women's department, and for years Miss Laura Latham was the resident "hemstitcher," a term of the time given to those who did alterations and added bric-a-brac.

A third major area, located on and under a large balcony, was stocked with clothing for men-hats, suits, "dress pants and work pants," underwear, "coats and overcoats," "overalls and coveralls" (a big item in farm areas), pajamas, shirts, and ties. A 1934 photograph reveals a sign saying "All Leather Jackets for Winter, $12.95 and Up. Mackinaws, $8.95. Fleece Overcoats, $15.00."

The final area of the store served as both a shoe department for "men, women, and children," and a "Bargain Center-Nothing Over 25 cents." The store featured "Roblee Shoes. Buster Brown Shoes; Airstep Shoes; Nunn-Bush and Wolverine Shoes." The first three were made by the Brown Shoe Company in St. Louis. Today the price of 1930s merchandise is tantalizing to recall: women's and men's shoes, $2.95 to $5.95; overalls, 79 to 89 cents; men's khaki pants, $1.25; shirts, $1.25; shorts, 35 cents; women's dresses from $2.95 to $9.95; men's suits, $11.95 to 19.95; a 9 x 12 linoleum rug for the kitchen, $4 95; ties 49 cents; ladies' hats, $3.95 to $9.95; men's "Stetson" hats, $5.95; a yard of "piece goods," 39 cents to 65 cents for those "do it yourself hemstitchers; silk hose for 95 cents; men's sox for 39 cents; men's undershirts, 49 cents; "luxury women's coats," $19.95.

The original Cassville store was open from seven-thirty in the morning, until six in the evening. Saturdays the store stayed open until nine, or until the last customer left, or the last relatives and friends stopped talking. Customers, friends and relatives liked to gather around one of the store's three large coal burning stoves, where Harry had placed cane chairs for those who had the time and motivation. There they would smoke and talk away the hours. (The smokes of choice at the time were cigars and pipes.)

Actually, social hour in Cassville began at about six-thirty in the morning when the Henley Cafe, across the street from the store, opened, and lasted until the last businessman departed for his place of business. There, Harry and Russel met their friends and fellow businessmen, for coffee and whatever pastries Mrs. Henley had fresh baked that morning. This daily get-together was the Cassville equivalent of the famous Algonquin Round Table.

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By seven the group consisted of anywhere from a dozen to two dozen local entrepreneurs, ready to open their stores and offices for the day's traffic. Regularly Harry and Russel would chat with the following regulars: John P. Ray, editor and owner of the Cassville Democrat, and his brother, Means Ray, a State Senator; Dr. L.E. Blankenship, one of two local dentists; Dr. William Salyer, one of the town's three physicians; Dr. George Newman, son of the older Dr. Newman, recently arrived from Mayo's Clinic in Rochester; Carl Mitchell, owner of the Music Store which sold radios, phonographs, records, sheet music, musical instruments including pianos, and delicious malts, milkshakes, and ice cream sodas (fifteen cents each); James Wooten, a pharmacist who also owned a drug store; Carl Dopp, who managed the Empire District Electric Company offices; Roy Stubblefield who owned Stubblefield Hardware; C.W. Riddle who owned a shoe and shoe repair store; Floyd Barber who owned a grocery store; Charles Chandler, owner of the First National Bank, one of Cassville's two banks; Bon Manley, owner of the Barry County Hotel; Kenneth Brown, jeweler and watch repairman; Alvin Blaylock, owner of the local Chevrolet agency; Bill and Steve Hailey, owners of the Ford agency; Royal Ellis and E.E. Kemp, the two prominent attorneys. M.M. Hess, Superintendent of Schools, F. H. BIythe, owner of the town dry cleaning shop; "Shorty" Cannady, owner of the five and dime store; Buford Wilks and Bill LeCompte, owners of rival lumber yards; W.D. Koon, one of the two local undertakers; Jack Byrd, owner of the automobile supply store; R.D. Markham and Glen Nicoll, owners of competing furniture stores; Sheriff Troy Wilson; Barber Jack Gibson; Evan Shore, owner of another restaurant; and Judge William Carney of the Barry County Court. Only six women in Cassville were in business for themselves. Jenny Ray, mother of John and Means Ray, was patriarch of the Cassville Democrat. Connie Olsen, wife of Mack Olsen, owner of the "Olsen's Terrible Swedes" professional basketball team, owned a beauty parlor. Evangeline Nolan owned and operated the town's only motion picture theatre, The Ozark. Mary Jane Northcut, M.D., was the wife of Dr. George Newman. Maude Wilson, wife of the sheriff, taught piano and accordion. And Mabel Ward owned and operated Ward's Kindergarten. None was ever seen at the Cassville Morning Roundtable at Henley's Cafe.

Of course I never attended one of the Henley Cafe morning roundtables either, but my grandfather used to say the topics ranged from national and state news to what was going on in town and at the Barry County courthouse. A very early riser, Harry would pick up his copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the splendid Pulitzer afternoon paper in St. Louis which was available at the Democrat at six-thirty the next morning, and digest its front page before going to Henley's. He thus became the morning anchorman for discussions of the depression and the New Deal, as well as Missouri politics. Harry spent a lot of time reading a lot of newspapers, but his favorite was always the Post-Dispatch.

My father, the great schmoozer, loved to be with people and enjoyed nothing better in life than a good conversation. He adored these early morning get-togethers, and would repeat their dialogue for us at noontime "dinner" (read "lunch") and evening "supper," (read "dinner"). Some of the breakfast clubbers came back at the noon hour, by the way, for Henley's "blue plate" special, which sold for twenty-five cents and included meat, potato, vegetable, drink and piece of pie. But my father always preferred having the midday meal at home. On summer evenings many of the morning Roundtable folks would come to our far back lot, an area behind the large garden Russel planted, where, under the lights, they would play highly competitive games of croquet until ten o'clock or so. Father installed the lights after players complained that eight o'clock (summer darkness time) was too early to quit. (Missouri was not on daylight savings time.) Members filled the croquet court's big metal tubs with ice and brought soft drinks and watermelons for refreshments.

The H.R. Windes & Son store employed several people. I have spoken of Miss Laura Latham, seamstress and salesperson of women's hats. Fat, good natured, and lovable Maude King was a regular, who worked forty-eight hours a week for six dollars, and was delighted to have the job. Her husband worked at the Seven Valley Cheese Company and was paid the same amount. Granny Margaret worked from noon until six daily. Harry's niece, Maxine Babb, daughter of his sister, Zoe, worked afternoons and Saturdays. High school principal Truman Thompson, the town's resident gay, beloved by all because of his devotion to his aged and ailing mother, was an all day Saturday employee, and a fill-in for summers. Gladys Alien, wife of the local Railway Express office manager, Horace, worked on Fridays and Saturdays also, which were the "big sales days" in Cassville.

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On Saturdays all the farm people came to town, arriving about noon and staying until nine or so that night. They shopped and visited friends and relatives and ate at one of the four local cafes and attended one, sometimes two, movies at Evangeline Nolan's Ozark Theatre (Evangeline showed her Friday night movie on Saturday afternoon, and a different movie, usually a western, on Saturday night.) On Saturday nights at seven-thirty, the "country folks" attended a concert featuring the high school band or orchestra. Otherwise, they just "hung out" on the square or in the stores, or at the nearby picnic shelter.

The town merchants had a "drawing" at two on Saturday afternoon in front of the Courthouse, winners getting one dollar each. And H.R. Windes & Son had its "drawing" immediately afterward. The customers, and anyone visiting the store, simply registered by dropping a name card into a box at the front of the store. Russel would take the box to the top of the courthouse steps, talk to the two or three hundred people in the audience about store specials and goodies, and then ask some kid to draw two name cards. The lucky customers received either a "linoleum rug," or five dollars worth of merchandise. (Linoleums were apparently prized possessions in that part of the country during the 1930s.)

I remember those Saturdays so very well, the ones in Cassville from 1930 to 1940, and the ones in Rogers, Arkansas, from 1937 to 1941. But most of all I recall warmly, almost lovingly, the store in Cassville. Even after father opened the store in Rogers in early 1937, the Cassville store remained in business, run by Harry and Margaret, mostly Margaret. I remember those Saturday nights waiting for the store to close, often half sleeping on a palate behind a counter, or on the counter, and listening to a dozen customers and half a dozen relatives natter on about people and events. Harry's brother, Robert, who still owned the Washburn store, and his wife, Gertie, who was called "Godaimighty Gertie" because her favorite conversational punctuation was "Godalmighty," were there every Saturday night, and they always brought me candy bars from their store. A Mrs. Henbest, who provided the family with both chickens and eggs each week (forty cents for the chicken; fifteen cents for a dozen eggs), arrived just before nine with her food. The Cox families among others were always there. They simply loved to shop and talk after eight o'clock on Saturday nights, and endless numbers of Coxes would come in to "browse."

I digressed from my memories of the pleasures of the Holidays when I was growing up. At Thanksgiving, the family always had early afternoon dinner at Granny Margaret's table. And after the dinner, mid-afternoon, everyone went to the Store where we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening decorating the entire place for the Christmas buying season. Maude and Fred King joined us; Gladys and Horace Alien came; Maxine Babb Hutchens and husband Roland showed up; Miss Laura came; Truman Thompson came. And when the store was all decorated that evening, and the window displays in place, Harry turned on all the Christmas lights to the "ooooohs and aaaaahs" of the group, and Granny and Bess served mince meat and pumpkin pies in paper plates and cups of milk and coffee to all who had helped.

In the autumn of 1936, Harry Windes, traditionally a shrewd businessman and good predictor of business conditions, made a financially disastrous business decision. He decided to expand from one store to three, convinced that the Great Depression had ended. Rice Stix owned a large store in Rogers, Arkansas, which it had taken possession of when the original owners had gone bankrupt. They were anxious to unload it, and just as they had sold Harry the Walker Brothers Cassville store under similar circumstances in 1930, they now wanted to sell him the Rogers store as well. The difference was that the Rogers store was three times as expensive as the Cassville store had been, and would require three times the investment capital and three times the annual sales. Nevertheless, Harry and Russel, after studying the proposal carefully and making many trips to Rogers to analyze the reasons for the failure of the store, plus the prospects for the success of a replacement store, decided to make the investment, buy the Rogers store, and, at the same time, add a third store owned by Rice-Stix in the small community of Seligman.

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Harry and Russel had about $25,000 ($375,000 today's money) invested in the Cassville store, and they would have to invest another $35,000 ($525,000) or more to buy the Rogers and Seligman stores. Rice-Stix promised them a line of credit of $35,000 to restock both stores, payable, Harry and Russel believed, only when their original investment was recovered.

On December 26, 1936, Russel and Bess and three children moved to Rogers, to a lovely, new and spacious brick home on West Walnut Street, and Russel began the month long task of restocking and renovating the new store. Harry and Margaret continued to operate the Cassville store by themselves, and, at the same time, spend as much time as they could making sure that the Rogers enterprise was a success. This meant they spent a lot of time with us in Rogers. Harry hired a young man named Bob Pilant to run his Seligman store, which was a very small operation, with only twenty percent of the volume of the Cassville store. Both Harry and Russel and Rice-Stix predicted that the Rogers H.R. Windes & Son Store would gross more than $100,000 in 1937, more than twice the anticipated gross for the Cassville operation.

In order to make all the financial arrangements necessary to purchase the stores in Rogers and Seligman, and keep the store in Cassville, Harry had to use up most of his surplus capital, about twenty-five thousand dollars !936 money. He had to sell at a loss his oil lease properties in Oklahoma, on which drilling had already taken place, and he had to sell half of his land in Washburn Prairie and the Cassville home that Russei and Bess had left when they moved to Rogers. In short, Harry did what a good businessman does not want to do, use virtually all of his capital and go into debt to make a significant purchase, the return on which, while looking promising, was subject to general business and economic conditions over which Harry and Russel had no control.
In short and in hindsight, 1937 was a very risky time for a business to expand, and one has to wonder why the two men took the risks they did. They were doing very well indeed with their one store in Cassville. There were no compelling needs or reasons to change. My unanswered question has always been, Why did they do it? In Rogers, I faced all the traumas young people face when they are forced to redefine their lives because of social and environmental changes. As I have suggested, my response to change, which I presume I learned very young, was to scream and cry and complain and get angry, and then, quickly get over it. My sister Peggy was far less flexible; she was a brooder, dwelling endlessly on problems she should have quickly dealt with and moved on. For months in Rogers she isolated herself. While I quickly got over my disappointments over leaving all my friends and favorite teachers, and the Cassville store, and the Cassville and Exeter Railroad, and became quite busy making new friends and exploring new surroundings, Peggy required months to do the same.

Some of this may have been the difference between pre-pubescent and pubescent behavior, but I think it more than likely that the difference lay in two wildly different personalities. I have always not just accepted change but actively sought change; whereas Peggy much preferred to embrace the status quo and live with it. Even if it were uncomfortable, at least it wasn't risky. In Rogers, Peg eventually developed a close circle of friends, including handsome young southern boyfriends like Jimmy Brown and Ned Swaringen. And, during the next nearly four years, I became friends with almost everyone in Rogers.

Rogers had a population of nearly four thousand, four times the population of Cassville. Rogers was far more "southern" in disposition than Cassville, just thirty miles north across the State line. Topographically, Rogers was hilly and rolling, much like Cassville, and the community did have a number of things I appreciated. It had two movie theatres instead of one. It had a seven story hotel. The mainline of the Frisco Railroad ran through its business section. And it had both a Candy Store and a Malt Shop, just doors away from the new Windes Store.

The new Windes Store, formerly the ABC Store, combined two stores in one. There were four large display windows instead of two. The store occupied nearly nine thousand square feet of space, including two large balconies. The store had two restrooms, one for men and one for women. The store had central heating and air-conditioning in the summer. And the store fixtures were art deco in design and very attractive. The west side of the store was given to men's wear, and the east to women's wear. The back section of the women's store contained a section for small household items, rugs, notions, cosmetics, bedding, bath items, and piece goods. The back section of the men's store housed the shoe department. The east balcony housed both Russel's office, and the office of the sales cashier, as well as the work clothes department, overalls, Levis, and khakis. The west balcony housed "outergarmets," coats, topcoats, overcoats, jackets, gloves, galoshes, scarves, rubbers, etc.. The store was equipped with four pneumatic devices connecting the terminals at registers and wrapping counters below to the store cashier above.

When customers came into the store they were met by a clerk who "waited on them," showing them merchandise and describing it. If the clerk "sold" the customer one or more items, those purchases were taken to the Register and Wrapping Counter. There a sales slip was written, the customer paid cash or wrote a check or charged the purchase. The transaction slips were then put in a little metal cylinder, which was placed into the pneumatic tube, and shot like a bolt of lightning to the cashier, who removed the cylinder from the tube, emptied its contents, replaced them with a receipt and change, returned the cylinder to the tube and shot it back downstairs to the waiting clerk and customer. The device made a marvelous "whooooooosh" sound as it traveled from floor to balcony and back, and, on a busy day, the store was filled with "whooooooosh" sounds from its four pneumatic conduits. As Papa said, "When you hear "whooooooosh," think money!

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Marion Albright sat at one end of the "whooooooosh." She had been a steady girlfriend of Russel's when he had attended and graduated from Rogers High School before moving to Durant. And there was some reason to believe the two of them still felt something for each other. The decision to seat her at a desk right next to Russel's desk was probably not the wisest one. It took only a short time for Bess to discover that Marion Albright had once been Russel's sweetheart. When she did, for the first time in her married career, she became a real jealous and angry bitch, demanding that Marion be dismissed.

For weeks the two fought it out every night at the dinner table. For weeks the two refused to speak to each other at all. But finally Bess won, thanks to her behavior and the intervention of Margaret Leona who accused Russel of "needlessly bad judgment." The family crisis ended, and the children went back to enjoying their evening meal without fear that Bess might have poisoned Russel's vegetable soup. Marion was put in charge of the women's department, and was probably happy to climb down from the balcony, because she lived in fear of a Bessian ambush. Leolan Wood became the new Cashier, and Leolan was not even close to a threat to Bess' sovereignty over her husband, i am reasonably confident that Russel and Marion continued their off and on "affair," in absolute privacy for as long as the family remained in Rogers. Marion was a divorcee, and her son, Bob, and I regularly played together. We even gossiped together about my father and his mother.

Those years from 1937 to 1941 were difficult ones for my father and grandfather. When Harry and Russel decided to add two stores to their company beginning in 1937, as I have written previously, they predicated their decision on their beliefs that the economic depression of the early 1930s was over, as did most other businesses and businessmen at the time. Consequently they bet the family fortune on the next business cycle.

The years 1937 and 1938 were almost as devastating to American small businesses as had been those of 1932 and 1933. During the 1936 campaign President Roosevelt had assured the American people that the depression emergency was over, and that recovery was well underway. In early 1937 a serious economic crisis occurred, followed by an equally serious recession. Another crisis followed late in the year. Those predictions Rice-Stix and the Windes family had made in 1936 of sales at the new store in excess of $100.000 in 1937 were regrettably and alarmingly off the mark. During the first six months of the new store, sales of a little under $40,000 were recorded. And during the usual busy fall selling season, business was so bad that Russel held sale after sale, cutting prices to the below cost level, to liquidate merchandise in order to pay big wholesaler bills. The first year sales figures totalled only $75,000, one-quarter less than needed and expected. That year alone, Russel and Harry estimated, the family lost a third of its investment, or nearly 512,000 ($180,000, 1990s money).

The year 1938 was even more disappointing. By late 1939 the Seligman store, which had never made a cent, went out of business, and its debt was paid off by borrowing from the Cassville store. By mid 1941 the Rogers store had accumulated a debt of nearly $30,000 ($450,000, 1990s money), and was losing money each month To make matters worse, in the autumn of 1940, Grandfather Harry had a heart attack, followed by a second one when he underwent surgery at the Springfield, Missouri, Baptist Hospital.

Russel was accordingly left with the responsibility of running two stores at the same time. Bill Minnick assumed an important role in helping Russel manage, taking over responsibilities in Rogers when Russel was in Cassville, and spending weeks in Cassville, staying at Harry and Margaret's home there, when Russel needed to be in Rogers. Still, from the autumn of 1940 until the autumn of !94I Russel and Bess were gone from Rogers quite frequently, always taking my younger sister Patti with them. That meant that Peggy and t were on our own much of the time.

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We were hardly alone, of course. The neighbors came over often. (The Price family who lived next door to the north of us, were deaf, and Peg and I had learned how to communicate with them by sign language. The Sheets lived to our south; their very cute son, Billy, my age, brought us food every night, and, also fascinated by sign language, he wouldn't leave until the two of us jacked off each other) Personnel from the store dropped by every night, and any number of friends of Peggy, and friends of mine, were more or less permanent guests.

Peggy was a senior in high school that year, and she had a lot of friends, including the high school librarian, Winona Price and her husband, George. The Prices were childless, and they formed a unusually close attachment to Peggy, seeing her almost every night. 1 never knew what the real nature of the relationships were. After graduation, Peggy entered the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, twenty miles away, in the fail of 1941. That fall there were times during which no family member was at home.

Russel and Margaret were desperately tired of the struggles and could see no light at the end of their business and personal tunnels. Accordingly, they agreed to try to find buyers for both the Rogers and Cassville stores. Both were placed on the market in the spring of 1941. The Cassville store, much loved and sentimentalized by the family, sold to its original owners, Walker Brothers and Rice-Stix. eleven plus years after Harry and Margaret had bought it. The last day it was H.R. Windes & Son was July 31. 1941. Harry and Margaret of course kept their home in Cassville and lived there until Harry's death, on January 30,1942. Margaret sold the place three months later.

The Rogers store continued limping along until November of 1941, when Rice-Stix agreed to resume ownership and absorb all of the store's debts. Much of the profit from the sale of the Cassville store went to pay the obligations and losses accumulated in Rogers over a four and one-half year period. The family emerged from their long series of mistakes having lost everything except the home in Rogers, the home in Cassville, and approximately $6000 from the sale of everything else after the bills were paid The staggering four and a half year loss was nearly $50,000, in cash, land holdings and merchandise, or nearly $750,000 in today's dollars. It was probably a good thing that I was too young really to understand and appreciate the enormity of the financial disaster and what it would mean to the future of the family.

The Windes Store of Rogers closed at the end of the business day on December 24,1941. There were no prayers for the dead.

When Russel bailed out of the Rogers failure, he took the money he had left, and the money that would come from the sale of the Rogers home, and looked about for an investment that would carry with it a position for himself. November of 1941 he met with two businessmen from Springfield, Missouri, J. Wyman Hogg and E. Ray Nichols, who owned a new company called The Great Southern Loan Company. Great Southern had two subsidiaries, The Citizens Loan Company, which lent money up to three-hundred dollars, and The Standard Acceptance Company, which made loans up to fifteen hundred dollars. The State of Missouri had "pawn shop" legislation governing the interest rates that could be charged by banks and other lending institutions on consumer loans, permitting on loans three-hundred dollars and under, interest rates of three percent a month, or thirty-six percent per year, on unpaid balances. On Loans of more than three-hundred dollars, up to two thousand dollars, interest rates of two percent per month or twenty-four percent per year were legal. This legislation continued in force until 1953.

 

 

 

 

 

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