By Carter Anthony
Part one of a six-part series
In 1958, my good friend Edward McFerrin got a job at George McCrory’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear on Commerce Street in downtown Greenville. Edward was a grade ahead but I was not deterred. I needed some spending money! I thought if Edward can do it I can too. One day I put on my best khakis and a good shirt and marched right up to the little office Mr. George McCrory had in the back of the store. Surprisingly, after some small talk, a few questions and an employment application, Mr. George said, “See you at 8 a.m. Saturday”. I didn’t even ask about the pay, didn’t tell my parents I was looking for a job until I got it. I was a young teenager and needed spending money. George McCrory’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear looked like the best place in town for a teenage boy like me to work.
George McCrory’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear was opened in the mid-40’s on West Commerce Street in downtown Greenville. It was opened by George McCrory, a native of Greenville and Butler County. Mr. George was the oldest of five children and as such had to become the mature parental figure when his parents died at an early age. He was a salesman in the men’s department at Planter’s Mercantile, a department store at the lower end of Commerce Street, when a prominent Greenville businessman told him he was too good to be working for someone else and offered to help Mr. George start his own men’s and boy’s clothing store. He initially opened in the small store that later became the shoe department which was located between The First National Bank and Ryan’s Drug Store, a location with a lot of foot traffic. A few years later the store next door became vacant and he was able to expand into a much larger footprint. On the immediate west side was Johnson’s Jewelry, Elton Johnson owner, and another jewelry store was on the east. Jernigan’s Furniture Store was directly across Commerce Street from Mr. George’s as we came to call it. In the 1950s Mr. George had the store air conditioned, the first store in Greenville to be air conditioned.
Mr. George was somewhat of a “stout man” as my grandmother would have called him, wore big dark rimmed glasses and was forever smiling. Seldom did we see him in a bad mood. He was the fulltime owner and operator and was there before the store opened at 8 a.m. and well after the store closed at 5 p.m. six days each week except Wednesday when he closed at noon and until 6 p.m. on Saturday. During exceptionally busy days such as Father’s Day weekend and the Christmas Season, Mr. George’s wife, Miss Frances, and his daughter, Annette, came in to handle the cash register and to help wrap gifts. We all looked forward to Annette coming to help us work. She was one of the prettiest and sweetest girls at Greenville High School and was Miss GHS in 1962. Mr. George was surely proud of her being Miss GHS, he was even more “stout” that Saturday morning, and proud to have her work with us. We were, too. I suspect a lot of school boys came in just to see Annette.