It is always such fun running across a photo that pertains to part of my past. That was the case a couple of weeks ago when a 1952 photo of the Thornton Sales and Auction Co. barn, on Norton Road across from the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, appeared on Facebook, posted by Wayne Glenn. “Tony probably chose this spot because important Route 66 was nearby,” Mr. Glenn said. Another photo was included that featured Mr. Thornton, wearing a cowboy hat.
After seeing the photos, I told about Tony giving my dad a haircut one time. My dad enjoyed going to auctions. He especially enjoyed those held at Tony’s auction barn.
Daddy liked a bargain. He was always on the lookout for something worth the money. On one fateful night, Daddy drove the family to Tony’s auction barn. We sat while several items sold. Then a set of hair clippers was offered for sale. Tony told the crowd he would give a pair of the clippers to the first person who would let him give them a haircut. My dad stood up. He went to the chair in the middle of the arena and sat down. Tony got the clippers and demonstrated how they worked. The trouble with this, Tony had absolutely no hair-cutting skills. He took those electric clippers and ran them up Daddy’s head, cutting large areas, clear to the scalp.
Daddy got his free clippers, but oh, what a mess he had. He wouldn’t even go out to do the chores the next morning until Mom trimmed and tried to straighten out the awful haircut. Mom said there was no way it could be fixed.
“I should have sued him,” Daddy said.
It’s strange, but my brother Jerry ended up with Tony’s cowboy hat. I have no idea where he got it. I believe it sold along with all the other stuff, when Jerry closed out Ornate Interiors, in the old Hood Store building, on Main Street.
A sale my family attended without fail was the dead freight auction, in Springfield. It was held in an old warehouse, just off Main Street, where the old train depot was. We kids even liked those sales, because the folks bought such interesting things. At one sale, they bought an entire case of root bear syrup. We, of course, didn’t have any way to add carbonation, so it tasted a little flat, but we mixed it with water and drank it anyway.
Another thing they bought that was great fun was some dark blue, rubberized-type stuff. It came in a little tube with a small straw. We kids put the liquid rubber on the end of the straw, and blew. It made the prettiest balloons you ever saw.
One time, Mom and Daddy bought several cases of really good liquid concentrate. Mom thinks it was called “Texcise.” It was great for washing cars and windows, and whatever else you tried it on. It was so cheap, and they bought so much, we kids went around the neighborhood selling it. Mom thinks we got 25 cents a bottle for it. It was so good, people called and asked for more. We completely sold out. Mom hadn’t seen or heard of the product since.
I was with Mom at one of those dead freight sales, and a case of toilet paper was put on the auction block. Mom and I were about the only females, and the men seemed embarrassed to bid on it, so we bought it really cheap. Another day, she bought at least 200 boxes of the very best chocolates. They were in a fire and tasted smoky. We let them air out and ate them.
Mom said she bought cases of breakfast cereal, too. If the boxes got crushed in shipping, they sold them at auction. There wasn’t anything wrong with the cereal; the boxes were just damaged.
One kind of cereal Mom bought was sweetened puffed wheat, I believe. My dad did custom farming, and one of the fields he cut and baled was north on Highway 65, to the east. The Highfill place, I believe. Mom and us kids took his lunch, and we sat under one of the big shade trees and had a picnic. For a treat, we could eat that cereal. We ate it dry, kind of like candy.
The candy we got at the dead freight sale reminded me of the little dessert cakes we got from Sunshine Bakery, that my uncle Byron Ford worked for. He went around to different stores and picked up the outdated or what was soon to be outdated merchandise, then he passed it along to us. It was still perfectly good to eat, and we loved it.
Daddy also bought baked goods from the day-old store. The problem with that stuff, it was several days old. Back then it wasn’t loaded with preservatives, therefore it began to taste old and sometimes moldy. But it was not unusual for us to heat it up and eat it anyway (not the moldy stuff, though).
One of the things Daddy bought was Brooks potato chips, from the manufacturer, in Springfield. When I was young, I thought he was able to buy those chips because they were a little burned. I realized after I got a little older that Mom put them in the oven to refresh them — thus burning them a little.
The same thing happened to crackers. When they got a little stale, Mom put them in the oven, and like magic they were good to eat again.
Oh, the memories Wayne Glenn’s pictures conjured up. I hope they brought some of your memories to the front, too.