Thursday, July 26, 2007


Went To Leonard's Department Store Museum Today

I took my daughter to the Orthodontist today to get her braces worked on. She had a ten AM appointment. She was through by ten thirty, it was too early to go eat lunch so I bribed her to go with me to one of those boring gown up places (a museum.) I gave her six dollars so she could go to Star Bucks with her friends this afternoon. We then went to see the Leonard's Department Store Museum. The museum had a lot of great memorabilia chronicling the stores history in Fort Worth. Admission was free, can't beat the price and they gave us two free cups and we bought two t-shirts at the gift shop next door for five bucks each, a bargain. Leonard Bros Store was started around WWI by two North East Texas Farm Boys. Marvin and Obie Leonard. They started out small and through hard work, ingenuity and through forward thinking they built an empire that lasted for many decades. Leonard's was the Wal-Mart Super Center of it's day. If you needed something you could find it at Leonard's. They had a Farm & Ranch dept, clothing dept, house wares dept, hardware dept, auto parts dept, drug store, bakery, furniture dept, appliance dept, toy dept, grocery store , meat market, candy store, sporting goods store ( guns, fishing tackle, boats, outboard motors) you name it they had it. People came from near and far to shop there. they had the most merchandise at the best prices. They put in the first escalator south of the Mason/Dixon line in the 40's. About 1960, down town Fort Worth began to change. Businesses were moving to the suburbs. Parking down town was at a premium. the Leonard brothers put in a huge parking lot on the banks of the Trinity River. They offered a free shuttle bus service to their store but the buses got hung up in traffic and were un air- conditioned. So they put in a private subway to get their customers to the store in air- conditioned comfort. The M & O line ran along the banks of the river and then turned into a tunnel cut into the bluffs of the river bank and the subway ran a good distance underground to a station in the basement of Leonard's building. I have fond memories of riding the subway with my grandfather when I was a small child. I rode the subway for years even after Leonard's had been sold and it was not Leonard's any longer. My kids have both ridden the subway as well as my wife. Sadly the subway was shut down about five years ago. Damn progress! They can take our subway, but they can't take away the memories.

I grew up at Jacksboro, 60 miles from Fort Worth, and
teenage boys in the 1940s often hitchhiked to Fort Worth on Saturdays, usually visiting Leonard Bros. just
"to look around." Don't remember the subway, but do
remember always looking at a display of Italian boxer
Primo Carnero's tennis shoe, size 19 if I remember correctly.
Thanks for stopping by Dudleys Diary Dalton. Leonards was a fantastic place in its time. I grew up in Wichita Falls and we drove through Jacksboro on the way to Fort Worth to visit both sets of grandparents. We used to stop at the Green Frog for lunch on the way. Those were the good old days. I miss going to Leonards with my grandfather. Leonards was on the way out when I went there as a child. It closed down soon after we moved to Fort Worth.

I am another Fort Worth girl, born and raised there, although I now live in Holland (Europe - not NY). For a while I lived with my grandparents on Weatherford Street. That meant I could easily walk to town whenever I liked and that was fairly often. One of my favorite memories would have to be of the Leonard's window dressings at Christmas. And of course the Christmas shopping area just for kids - no grown-ups allowed. This year I saw some Christmas store windows in Dusseldorf Germany that really reminded me of the 50's in Texas, and thinking about those days led me to googling Leonard's and here I am as a result. I am not in Texas too often, so I did not know about the museum, but you can bet I will visit it next time I am in town. I rode the subway often, both in its original configuration and later when it was taken over by Dillard's and then I think by the city. And I rode the escalator endlessly (heck - I was only 11!)

I love your pictures of the subway and of the downtown area. I worked at the telephone company in the days before the convention center was built and was on the switchboard there the day Kennedy died. So many memories. Sometimes I think we don't have enough time at the end of our lives to remember the way things were.
Thanks for visiting Dudleys Diary DonnaJ! Glad my post about Leonard's brought back good memories for you. When you make it back to Fort Worth, I know you will enjoy touring the Leonard's museum. I have a cousin that lived in Europe for many years, first in Paris, France and then he lived for several years in Holland. He worked for Phillips and commuted to work from a beautiful farmhouse out in the Holland countryside. He moved back to Houston, TX a few years ago after many years overseas.

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]