Gayle Garner has generously supplied bradleyark.com with a wonderful photo of a Bradley business from long ago.
This business was O’Neal & Crockett, a retail mercantile establishment located on the northwest corner of Pilot and 4th Street/Highway 160, roughly where the car wash is now. The man wearing the necktie on the right side of the photo is Gayle’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner. Gayle thinks the boy on the right side of the photo may be his brother, Merritt Gerald Garner. This type of business photo is rather common, and was apparently taken by a roving photographer who specialized in such photos.
Two excerpts from Glynn McCalman’s Bradley Connections give a glimpse into this business.
“Before the Edwards ‘department’ store was built during the depression, the largest general store at Bradley was owned by Gilbert ‘Gip’ O’Neal and Ernest Crockett. … Before partnership with O’Neal, G. I. ‘Bob Reynolds was Crockett’s partner. The store was at the northwest corner of Fourth Street at Pilot, and had been previously been owned by John Hamiter. The John Deere farm implement store just west of it was also owned by them.”
“Nearly three-fourths of a century after our first childhood visit to O’Neal and Crockett, some of us continue to remember fondly the pleasant mixed aromas of coffee, potatoes, grain, apples, and other produce that greeted customers when they entered. The business also included a farm implement store immediately west of that building on Fourth Street. After the dissolution of the business, possibly in part due to the Depression of the 1930’s, the extreme eastern section of the building was modified to house the post office. Later yet, that portion of the building west of the post office housed Tom Jester’s appliance store and shoe shop.”
An invoice from Reynolds-Crockett Co., the precursor of O’Neal & Crockett, appeared in the article posted on this site on January 14, 2008.
Gayle Garner’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner, later worked for Edwards Company. Around 1937, Edwards Company decided to build a store at Canal where a new cotton gin was being built, and Gayle’s father ran that store for a time. Later, Merritt Guyraud Garner left Edwards Company and built a store of his own, the “M. G. Garner Company,” next door to the Edwards store at Canal. Near the end of 1944, the Garner family moved to Longview, Texas.
Gayle Garner’s grandfather, John P. Garner, was the first person to sign the petition to incorporate the town of Bradley in 1906.
Gayle is the author of A Childhood in Cotton Country, which was serialized in the Lafayette County Press a few years ago. He was born in 1930 in a house located just north of Walnut Hill, part of which had once been the doctor’s office of my own great-grandfather, Dr. J. F. McKnight. He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1955, and later accepted a commission in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army. At one time he was Chief Trial Judge of the U. S. Army. In 1997, after retirement from the U. S. Army, he became General Counsel of Waste Connections, Inc., which at that time was the fourth-largest national solid waste company. He retired from that position in 2008, and now spends part of his time on hobbies of writing and painting pictures.