Category Archives: Businesses

Hard Times in Bradley, 1930, 1931

Since the current recession began in 2007, Bradley folks, like other people almost everywhere else, have endured less than rosy financial conditions.  Of course, to some extent, Bradley and the rest of Lafayette County are almost always in a state of recession, or even worse at times.

At end of each year between 1920 and 1949, Della McKnight Cochran would make a summary-type entry in her daily diary.  At the end of 1930, this poignant entry appears:  “People hungry.  So few Christmas gifts this year.  Not nearly so many cards sent.”  This would have been a little over a year after the stock market crash in October of 1929. By this time, the Great Depression was well under way.

On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1931, almost a year later, this entry appears:  “Not much doing at store.  No cotton picking for over a month because of rains.  No money [around Bradley].”

Hard times and Bradley have never been strangers to each other.

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Finally, a personal note.

I could not let the last day of 2009 pass without saying “Thank you” to the readers of bradleyark.com, both for reading and for generously sharing your comments, photos, and other historical material with me.  The response to this site has, over the roughly 28 months of its existence, been overwhelming.  Again, thank you.

Eddy

O’Neal & Crockett, circa 1930

Gayle Garner has generously supplied bradleyark.com with a wonderful photo of a Bradley business from long ago.

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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.

Where have all the businesses gone? Late 1950s

Bradley today has little more than a handful of businesses.  It was not always so, however.  The following is a list, in more or less alphabetical order, of Bradley area businesses (and library) who purchased advertisements in either the 1957, 1958, or 1959 Bradley High School yearbooks, approximately 50 years ago.

Allen Bros. Construction and Equipment Company

Allen’s Pan-Am Service Station

Baker Bros. Service & Supply

The Bank of Bradley

BAM’s (near the Red River Baptist Church)

W. E. Barker, Cotton Buyer

Betty’s Beauty Shop

Bradley Confectionery (Vesta Powell)

Bradley Drug Store

Bradley Grain Elevator

Bradley Public Library (Mrs. G. D. Milloway)

Cochran Hardware Co.

Cochran Implement Co.

Coker Hardware Co.

W. E. Copeland & Sons (Canfield)

Lee Crabtree’s Store (Gin City)

Crain & Rogers, Distributor of Magnolia Petroleum Products and L P Gases

Crain’s Beauty Shop

W. P. Cryer Groceries & Dry Goods (Gin City)

J. M. Drake’s General Merchandise

Edwards Company Department Store (“Your 40 years Patronage has proved that highest quality merchandise at lowest possible prices makes for holding old customers and winning new.”)

Edwards Hardware Co.

E. & W. Service Center

Farmers Cooperative Gin Company of Bradley

Hamner Implement Co.

Hamner Mercantile Co.

Jones Plumbing & Electrical Company

Logan Seed Company

Kennedy Grocery

Mac’s Dry Cleaners (Ray McKenzie)

Mrs. Margaret R. Meek, Agent, Fire & Casualty Insurance

Moncus Grocery (Canfield)

Orville M. Odom, Crop Duster

A. W. Owens Barber Shop

Planter’s Gin Company

Tom’s Shoe Shop

The Town & Country Beauty Shop

Tyler’s Service Station

Smith’s Cafe (“Five Hamburgers To Go”—$1”)

Farm-Oriented Businesses, 1957

The 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook mentions four farm-oriented businesses in the Bradley area:  Hamner Implement Co., Cochran Implement, Allen Bros., and Bradley Grain Elevator.  The narrative in the scrapbook is excerpted as follows:

“Three large Implement Concerns are situated in and near Bradley and furnish the planters with all the equipment necessary for planting, tilling and harvesting the crops.  The farmer has a choice of three leading lines.  Allen Bros. handle the Massey-Harris; Hamner Implement Co., the Jno. Deere line and Cochran Implement has the International Harvester line.

All three of these firms have a garage in connection, well equipped to take care of repairs of the implements sold by them.

These concerns are housed in large tile buildings.  The Jno. Deere Co. is completely air-conditioned; the office of the Cochran Implement Co. is air conditioned and the rest of the building is cooled with large fans.  The Allen Bros. Construction & Equipment Co. recently added 50×60 feet of floor space, in which are three air conditioned offices and a large tire department.

… Allen Bros. installed a two way radio mobile system and have units in three cars at this time.  This enables the two Allen Bros., Charles and J. G. III, to keep in touch with the many phases of their work.

… Bradley Grain Elevator during 1957 handled approximately 90,000 bushels of grain, which included Oats, Corn, Milo and Rice.”

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Shown below are the 1957 pictures of three of these businesses.  Unfortunately, the picture in the scrapbook of Hamner Implement Co. is irretrievably out of focus.  However, a very good picture of Hamner Implement Co. taken from the scrapbook appeared in the post on this site of 9/24/08.

Below is a photo of Cochran Implement in 1957:

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And below is a photo of Allen Bros. in 1957:

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And below is a photo of “Bradley Storage & Elevator Co.” in 1957:

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Bradley Warehouse, Inc., 1948-1978

The 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook contains a brief history of the Bradley Warehouse, Inc., which is reprinted here:

“In 1918, M. M. Hamner, Sr., J. B. Edwards and L. B. Hamner formed a partnership to operate a cotton warehouse.  Using their own capital, they erected three sheet-iron buildings, 75’ x 140’.  Later they sold some stock to Charley Smith and W. T. Murphy, Jr.  The warehouse was in operation until the outbreak of World War No. 2 and, because of conditions peculiar to those times, such as labor shortage, etc., it was decided to close down the business.

In December, 1948, M. M. Hamner, J. B. Edwards, L. B. Hamner, W. T. Murphy, Jr., and F. M. Cochran, who bought the interest of Charles Smith, held a meeting and decided to reactivate the warehouses, form a Corporation under the laws of the State of Arkansas known as Bradley Warehouse, Inc., and Government Bond it.  With an additional investment of $25,000.00, all local capital, the three existing warehouses were completely repaired, inside and out.  A 128’ well was put down, a 25,000 gallon water tank was erected and all buildings were equipped with sprinkler systems.  The Government approved the warehouse for the storage of 5,000 bales of cotton.

In 1953, it became quite evident that the three houses could not take care of the cotton to be stored, and in the fall of that year, an 80’ x 140’ galvanized Butler building was erected at a cost of $25,000.  This, too, was equipped with a sprinkler system.  The Government increased the approval to 7,000 bales.

These four buildings, however, soon proved inadequate to take care of the cotton crop and early in 1956, a sheet-iron extension of 200’ was added to warehouse No. 2, at a cost of around $35,000.00.  Another 60,000 gallon tank was erected and 4 outside hydrants were placed.  A sprinkler system was also installed in this building, and approval was increased to 9,000 bales of cotton.”

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Such was the state of Bradley Warehouse, Inc., in 1957.  In 1978, Bradley Warehouse, Inc., sold its physical plant to Farmers-Merchants Warehouse & Storage Co., Inc., a Louisiana corporation with principal offices in Plain Dealing, and the corporation itself was liquidated shortly thereafter.  According to the Lafayette County Tax Assessor’s records, the real property is now owned by Southern Arkansas Warehouse & Gin, L. L. C., an Arkansas limited liability company.

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Shown below is a photo from the 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook, showing the physical plant.  Immediately below it is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle on October 14, 2008.

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The most obvious difference in the two photos is, of course, the disappearance of one of the 1957 water tanks. Also, in the 1957 photo, the street has not yet been paved.

Shown below are three photos from the 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook of some of the activities and employees of the Warehouse at that time.

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If any reader should recognize any of these men, I would very much appreciate an e-mail or comment to that effect, and would gladly add their names to this post.

Four Bradley scenes, 1957

Here are four photos taken from the 1957 B. & P. W. scrapbook, each showing a different view of Bradley.  Following each 1957 photo is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle on September 23, 2008.

The first is a photo taken at the intersection of Highway 160, Woodruff St., and Crabtree Lane.  It shows Baker Bros. Garage (the “Esso” sign on the left) and Hamner Implement Co.  In the current photo, the Bradley Medical Clinic, with the apartment buildings in the rear of the photo, is now located where Hamner Implement Co. appears in the 1957 photo.

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The second photo was taken on the Bradley school campus.  It shows what was then the gymnasium in the back of the left side of the photo, and the old high school building on the right side of the photo.  The “new” high school building is described and pictured prominently in the B. & P. W. scrapbook, so this would have been about the time the “new” high school building was constructed. It is possible that, when this photo was taken, the old high school building had been abandoned and was awaiting demolition.  When this 1957 photo is enlarged, 14 (!) buses can be counted.

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The third photo is taken from the westbound lane of Fourth St./Highway 160 approximately in front of where the Post Office would have been located at that time.  The sign hanging from the awning on the right side of the photo, just above the automobile, says “Kennedy Grocery.”  The discoloration in the top portion of the photo is from the age of the photo, and not from a threatening sky.

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The fourth photo is taken from what is now the interior of the Community State Bank, looking more or less east at the west wall of the Edwards Co. building and Fourth St./Highway 160.  Prior to the construction of the second Bank of Bradley building on this location, the Arkansas Highway Department used it as a storage facility for highway resurfacing materials and equipment.

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Second Bank Robbery, 1990 (Part 2 of 2)

The last time the Bank of Bradley was robbed was on Monday, July 23, 1990.  Better than any summary of the events that I could write is the following article from the Lafayette County Democrat of July 26, 1990.  It is reprinted here by permission.

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BRADLEY BANK ROBBED; SUSPECTS AT LARGE

The Bank of Bradley was robbed around noon Monday, with two armed black males entering the bank and demanding money.  The suspects fled and after being fired at by Lane Pierce, bank president, dropped the money and disappeared into a wooded area.

According to Mike Loe, State Police CID investigator in Magnolia, the robbery occurred at approximately 12:35 p.m.

“Two black males entered the bank, one of them produced a gun, and had one of the tellers place an undetermined amount of money in a pillow case,” Loe said in an interview Monday afternoon in Bradley.

“They exited the bank, and bank president Lane Pierce fired.  They dropped the pillow case,” he continued.

At the time of the interview, Loe said the pillow case containing the cash had been recovered but authorities had not yet counted the money.

Pierce reported that the two suspects entered the front door of the bank holding pistols, and said, “This is a hold-up.”

“I was in my office way away from it,” he noted.

“They were real nervous,” he added.  “They were trying to tell the teller to find them some money.  We had some tellers gone to lunch and their drawers were locked.”

Pierce reported that the suspects shoved one of the tellers to the floor, but she was not injured.

“They went out the front,” Pierce continued.  “I was in my office and I have a back door.  I had a small pistol.

“I thought they might come down this side and sure enough, they did,” he continued.  “I fired and they dropped the money.”  The two men continued north and were believed to be hiding in a wooded area near Bradley.

A truck parked alongside the street, across from the bank, caught one of the shots.

Pierce said that he had been president of the Bank of Bradley for the past 15 years, and this was the first robbery during that time.

Unconfirmed rumors Monday afternoon had the men wearing masks and clear plastic gloves during the robbery.  It was rumored that the two men had broken into the Bradley Clinic prior to entering the bank, where they had stolen some clear disposable surgical-type gloves.

Monday afternoon members of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, Miller County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Lewisville City Police, Bradley City Police and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission assembled in Bradley to assist in the man hunt.

Railroad employees working the area were alerted to the situation, and warned to be on the lookout for the two suspects.

Bloodhounds were brought in from Wade Correctional Institute in Haynesville, La.

It was reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had been called in.