Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Family Business Tells Changing Story of American Commerce
A steady stream of delivery men to the Reservoir Inn at 4900 Moffett Road in Mobile, Alabama, told the changing story of American commerce.
As companies grew and merged over the years, you could watch local or regional product names change to national brands.
In the above photo, Wilmer Graham, a delivery man for Graham's Dairy, stands beside his truck with Beatrice Valara Pierce (1921-1993). Wilmer and Bea were lifelong friends. This photo was taken in front of the Reservoir Inn, which belonged to Bea's father, N.B. "Bonie" Pierce.
At the time, the Reservoir Inn was an early form of the convenience store that sold gasoline along with convenience food items. It also included a bar, whose patrons often included milk delivery drivers just getting off their shifts early in the mornings.
Note the 8-digit phone number for the dairy painted on the truck. The truck lettering also gives the location of the dairy as Moffat (now spelled Moffett) Road.
Bea is wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes, which became popular in the 1940s. British and American governments rationed silk and nylon during World War II. So women couldn't wear traditional stockings. The British came up with a substitute, a short ankle sock. Young girls and women picked up the British style, calling it the bobby sock after the British slang word for police officers. This style remained popular into the 1950s.
Wilmer is wearing either spats over his shoes or wing-tip shoes.
Note that the ground in front of the Reservoir Inn is unpaved. Later it was paved.
Did your family operate a business? What story does it tell?