|Question: Before the flood in 1961, there was a store on the south side of the Harrison square where my dad bought work clothes. I seem to remember that the store had a double name, but neither my sister nor I can think of it? Can you help?|
|Answer: Martin-Rogers Store must be the place! For nearly 30 years, Martin-Rogers was a dry goods store on the south side of the square, well known for Tuf-Nut overalls and Lee jeans.|
|The Martin-Rogers Mercantile Company was a dry goods store on the south side of the square in Harrison, Arkansas, and for nearly 30 years was well-known for Tuf-Nut overalls and Lee jeans. Above, Floyd Rogers is pictured at right.|
|In 1932, Lawrence Martin, his daughter Verma, and her husband Floyd Rogers purchased the building and stock of Walker Mercantile Company, and changed the name to Martin-Rogers Mercantile Company. Four years later, Mr. Martin sold his half of the business to another daughter and son-in-law, Gladys and Harold Womack.|
|Rogers and Womack also purchased a grocery store on the southeast corner of the square. It was called M&R Corner Grocery, and they continued to operate it until the partnership was dissolved in 1940. The Womacks took over the grocery store, and the Rogers took the dry goods store.|
|Martin-Rogers was recognized as one of the top dealers by the Tuf-Nut Company, having sold more garments than any other dealer in the state of Arkansas. During a sale in 1946, the store set an all-time record high for selling 1,552 Tuf-Nut garments in one day.|
|Like many stores around the square, Martin-Rogers stayed open late on Saturday, since this was the “big” day everyone came to town to do their trading.|
|During the early years, employees were Josephine Wilson Stinnett, Vernon Vinson, Faye Garner Mathis, Vonnie Paul Mathis, Les Brewer, Floyd Taylor, Lavonia Keele Hubbard and high school student Averil Morrison Davis, who worked on Saturdays.|
|Verma Rogers was an excellent seamstress and took pride in the variety of materials, lace and trims in the piece goods department. Her daughters were the recipients of her sewing talent, often standing out as the best dressed young ladies in town.|
|The Martin-Rogers Store sponsored the first home talent program to be aired on KHOZ when it went on the air September 26, 1946. It was called “The Scrapbook,” with Verma reading poetry while her daughter, Joanne, played piano. Later, Jeanette played piano for the program. Two other children, Mary Nell and Robert, completed the Rogers family.|
|Like so many businesses in downtown Harrison, the Martin-Rogers Store was ruined by the May 7, 1961 flood. Floyd (pictured at left) and Verma were trapped in the building as the wall of water came crashing over the banks of Crooked Creek. They spent several hours standing on top of a desk in the balcony of the store, with water up to their chests, thinking they would surely drown!
The flood meant an end to the Martin-Rogers Store. They sold what goods they could salvage and retired to their farm, located across from what is now Flexsteel on Highway 65 South. After 30 years, instead of going to the store everyday, Floyd could enjoy raising Angus cattle, and Verma became well known as an accomplished painter.
|If you can remember parking on the square on Saturday, doing your grocery shopping and other trading, maybe taking in an afternoon matinee at the Lyric or Plaza, and “people watching” on that busy day – then you should remember Martin-Rogers Store.|
|Today, as in the years since 1987, the Boone County Historical and Railroad Society continues its responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the Heritage Museum and the preservation of Boone County history. Volunteers are a very important part of this organization. They spend countless hours acting as docents, doing exhibit repairs and maintenance, answering questions and greeting the public. Volunteers are always welcomed.
Membership in the Historical Society and admissions at the door are important for the operation of the museum. Membership is $15 per year, and that entitles a member to quarterly issues of the Historian/Oak Leaves and free admission to the museum.
The Heritage Museum is located on the corner of South Cherry Street and Central Avenue. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This column appears Fridays in the Harrison Daily Times. Mail questions to Boone County Heritage Museum, P. O. Box 1094, Harrison, AR 72601. Marilyn Smith can be contacted at email@example.com