George McCrory’s Men’s and Boy’s Wear
By Carter Anthony
Part two of a six-part series
Harrison Miller, probably the world’s greatest men’s clothing salesman, was the primary salesperson. He was there from daylight until dark, always there when I got there and still there when I left. Harrison was a dynamo at selling men’s and boy’s clothes. Like Mr. George I never saw Harrison in a bad mood and he was forever positive. He could sell anybody anything in the store. We used to laugh about Harrison pinching in the back of a suit coat with his fingers while telling a prominent customer, “Yes sir, I think this coat fits just fine”. Harrison was also a native of Greenville and had a fine family of young children who often came to the store late Saturday afternoon. As the second in charge Harrison was the go-to-guy for the teenage salesmen.
A year or so after Edward and I started at George’s, Johnny Perdue joined us. Johnny had been in a terrible automobile accident during junior high school and had lost most of the use of his right arm but the wreck did nothing to harm Johnny’s outgoing personality. Whether telling a joke or being the butt of a joke Johnny was always a fun center of attention.
Going to work at George McCrory’s included forms of initiation. Probably the most prevalent was the “counter-stretcher”. On the first day of work the “new boy” was usually sent to the stores of Mr. George’s friends looking for the counter-stretcher. I went to Mr. Elton’s jewelry store only to be sent to Billy Calhoun’s studio, then to Mr. Jelly Cheatham’s meat market and then to Joe Norman’s Buick showroom, only to learn that nobody knew the whereabouts of the counter-stretcher. Mr. Joe just looked at me, smiled and said, “A counter-stretcher?”, turned and walked away. When I got back to Mr. George’s, interest in the counter-stretcher had died down and Harrison waved me off. I was initiated! One of the funniest initiations occurred when Mr. George told Coleman Fry he had to get “his shots” to work there. Coleman went to the county health department and got all of “his shots” at the same time and came back to work. Mr. George felt sure the county nurse would wave Coleman off but she didn’t and soon Coleman was sitting on the steps leading up to Mr. George’s office not feeling so well. Mr. George sent Coleman home and soon Lucy Fry, Coleman’s mom, was on the phone with Mr. George for about 20 minutes. Shots were no longer required.
It wasn’t initiation but it surely seemed like it when a student in the principal’s office came to my classroom at GHS and told me to go to George McCrory’s after work. It seemed a little scary that Mr. George would call the school especially so when I had only been employed for a few weeks. After school I hurriedly walked to town and with a lot of trepidation went into the store to see Mr. George. He called me back to and into his office to have a seat. Out came some paperwork. “Carter”, he said, “You’re not old enough to work here”. My heart fell! “But”, he said, “We’ve got this worked out”. Elation! “Edward is in the ninth grade and we thought you were, too. Eighth grade is too young to work here but I’ve got it worked out with the State Employment Agency. Fill out this paperwork.” Oh my, what relief!