Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Williams Trading Post

If Shorty belonged to Craig and me, then Frances Williams belonged to every kid in town.

Williams Trading Post was a landmark in RR for over 50 years sitting on the corner of High Street and Bitter Creek Road. It had been Dexter's Trading Post at one time. I can still remember that, but I don't recall Mr. Dexter. Frances married Don Williams and the store became William's Trading Post sometime in the early 70's. Don was known for his fishing knowledge and for feeding the deer in his front yard - a bit of a traffic hazard, but who doesn't love to see deer up close and personal?

In those 50 years generations of kids loved Frances Williams and spent all their pennies in the Trading Post. If any of us kids had a few cents rattling in our pockets, we made a beeline for Williams to buy candy, junk toys, rabbit pelts, a coonskin cap, bow and arrows, cap guns, Indian dolls, turquoise jewelry, or fishing gear. My favorite toy was a little black bear with a red collar and a leash. Every summer I would buy a stuffed toy bear, and I dragged that bear till his feet wore off. I also had an Indian doll and a grand supply of caps for my cap gun. My brothers were more into fishing stuff. There were ten-jillion photos on the wall at Willam's of people who caught large trout. I'm sure my brothers were in there somewhere - it was quite the badge of honor.

Williams Trading Post was kid heaven. The funny thing was, that there were several stores in town that sold similar stuff, but it was Frances that we loved. I wonder how much candy she gave away in her day or how many things she sold for much less than the real price. She treated us kids like we were special customers and always had time for us. Like Shorty, Frances was a tiny woman. She sat on a stool behind the counter like a queen and greeted all who entered calling us by name.

Frances died a few years ago. Don had passed before her. Before she died, my mom and I went by to see her in her little house behind the store. It was the first time I had ever been in her house. I really wanted to do some serious exploring - like being in a museum of RR history - but we just visited with Frances. She died not too long after that, and the store died with her. Francis never had children of her own, but she had a few relatives. They ran the store for a little while, but eventually just shut the doors and put it up for sale.

While I was in RR this past week, a friend of mine bought Williams Trading Post. He had special memories of the place and Francis also - his mom had worked for Frances in the store. Since he had just taken possession of the store and the house while we were there, he invited us in to look around. I bought coonskin caps for the GGs and some earrings for myself. It was great fun to go through the store. It was as if everything was just as Don and Frances left it - even Don's work area with all his fishing stuff.
When I came home from RR, I took the coonskin caps to the GGs and told them the story of Frances and William's Trading Post - how Uncle Pete, Uncle Craig, and Booboo had spent all their money there - as well as their own daddy and Aunt Jes did.
I think they liked the coonskin caps. GBN2 sang, "Davy, Davy Cwocket!"

At church on Sunday she sang this for Crewcraw. Then she asked him to be the "beah" (bear) while she was Davy Cwocket. Toby put his hands up like claws and growled. She acted like she had a gun and shot him. He fell over dead with his tongue hanging out. The look on her face was one I will never forget. Her eyes lit up and she had a huge smile. Then she leaped from my lap, threw her arms around his neck, and hugged him tight - as if to say he was the best bear ever.

Thanks, Francis, for the memories and junk toys. Thanks, Randy, for buying the store and letting us go through things. I have "The rest of the story" coming soon.


John said...

Yea...I saw that Stevie had it listed I believe when we were there. I didn't know Francis personally Lou, but we too as kids always went in there in the early days. I remember very well buying my first "Buck" knife in '75 (my first year of driving). And whenever we needed fishing gear, we always went there. I had forgotten about the deer, but once you reminded your readers, I remember Mom & Dad taking us kids up there to see them. Great memories...sad to see it gone, but hope your friend can reopen the store.

Buck said...

It's a great good thang the Trading Post will live on.

Nice reminiscence, Lou. Great pics, too.

Moogie P said...

This made me smile.

And I'm also glad that the Williams Trading Post legacy will go on.

Jo Castillo said...

Love to read you memories. The girls are precious in the cap!

Becky said...

That's a great story, Lou. I'm so glad that someone bought The Trading Post. I loved stores like that when I was a kid!

Bag Blog said...

It was definitely the place to go for fishing gear. I would have gone to the Starr for a knife - Don had the best selection.

Thanks Buck and Moogie - I think Randy will try to make the legacy live on as well as be a good businessman.

The caps are a hoot.

Funny how all kids love to be Indians, Cowboys, etc. and buy good junk toys.

John said...

Back then, all the drivers had "Buck" knives. I probably saw it at Williams first, so I bought it. I also bought a knife at the Starr 3 years ago...and yea, they still have the best selection. If I'm not mistaken, Craig and I bought identical hiking boots at Williams in '75. Maybe, maybe not. But I remember us buying the same boots, and I still have mine (and still wear them!) Just not certain if it was Williams.