Efird’s, there on Nash Street.

This ad in a 1934 Wilson Chamber of Commerce brochure depicts a building readily recognizable today in Wilson in its place across Nash Street from Imagination Station. Efird’s was a longtime downtown department store, and my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks spoke of shopping there as a child:

” … then, too, I had a pair of shoes, laced up, way up here, and the children said they was a grown person’s shoes. And Mama made me wear them. But they all teased me ‘bout them shoes, and I told Mama they hurt my feet. And she said, ‘Well, why didn’t you say something ‘bout ‘em? We could have got a larger pair when I bought ‘em.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know what size I wear.’  I said, ‘You let me try them on, but they didn’t hurt my feet then. But when I kept ‘em on a while, they started stinging,’ and they was too narrow or too short, one. I don’t know which it was now. But anyhow, Mama was gon make me wear ‘em, ’cause you wanted some new shoes, and I bought you some, whether you want to or not.’ I said, ‘I didn’t pick ‘em out, you picked ‘em out. They was on the table, and you had me try ‘em on.’

“The grown-up person shoes.” 

“The store was Efird’s, Efird’s, or whatever it is, there on Nash Street. They had a store, one of them where they had a little section for shoes in the back part, and they had a little seat there where you go to try on shoes. It was a white store, and they’d make you put on stockings – they had socks down there for you to put on, to put the shoes on. And you couldn’t put your ‘dirty’ feet in ‘em, and you see some people, look like everybody else done took the shoe off their feet. You can’t get the shoe on if you don’t have the sock on. That’s the way they’d sell it. Like that.

“For clothes, most of the time, they go by the age and the heighth, and they put it up to you, and they measure it like that and those kind of things. You didn’t try it on.”

Adapted from interviews of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, 1994-1998, all rights reserved; detail of photo of Hattie H. Ricks and Mamie Henderson Jacobs in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson.