Stepping off the Train in Downtown Malakoff
By Don Henderson
July 1960 Elmer Roberts
in front of Malakoff Store
        One of my earliest memories comes from downtown Malakoff. I was about 5 years old.  
This would place the time in the early 40's. My Grandmother and I traveled on a train from
somewhere west of Malakoff. We  likely boarded in Olney, Texas, which was the biggest town
close to where we were living.  I'm  fairly certain that it was near Christmas time and we were
coming to visit my Great Grandfather and Grandmother, Andrew and Martha Roberts.
Immediately after stepping off the train, I saw my cousin, Gary Jackson, standing at the front
of Uncle Elmer's store. Gary was popping fireworks; another evidence that it was near
Christmas. Uncle Elmer's store was at the corner of the street that ran north/south, on the
southeast side of Malakoff's downtown, near the railroad tracks. The depot was just South of
Uncle Elmer's store, as well as a small brick hotel on the south side of the tracks. In those days,
the only time we had apples was at Christmas time and I can still remember the smell of those
apples in Uncle Elmer's store. He sold them for 10 cents each, and they were individually
wrapped with a special paper. No other smell was like this unless it was Christmas morning
when Santa came. When we walked into his store, I immediately smelled those apples and
thought of Santa. How was Santa going to find me in Malakoff, way out in the country at
Grandpa Roberts? My Grandmother assured me that he would find me, but I was still very
concerned. Looking back, I suspicion that this is where Santa found his apples to use
Christmas Eve night. which must have been coming soon. Uncle Elmer's store seemed huge to
me. He had glassed in cabinets with curved glass, so that he could display certain tempting
ware for small boys. I was always drawn to those little cylindrical boxes containing peanuts
with the promise of prizes of nickels, dimes or even quarters being inside. I suppose this was
one of the earliest forms of gambling for me. For a nickel you got a box of peanuts and a
chance to win some big money!! Back then a nickel was a nickel and would buy some good
treats. Peanut patties and other candies also were there as a temptation. The other thing I
remember from Uncle Elmer's store was his pot bellied stove, stoked with wood that stood
toward the middle of the store. It was cold this day and it felt good to back up to this warm
stove. My Grandmother (Uncle Elmer's sister) spied what she was interested in. Uncle Elmer
always kept a round wooden box on top of his counter. Underneath was "rat cheese" as my
Grandmother described it. For a dime Uncle Elmer would slice off you a big piece of cheese
and supply you with some crackers to satisfy your hunger. Grandmother loved "rat cheese"
and so did I. The store was lined with shelves containing canned goods and toward the
middle-right, there were bolts of cloth, which could be unrolled and cut for the women to make
dresses. In the back of the store was the feed store part, which had a loading and unloading
dock on the south side of the building. Outside, along that same east/west street was the Harrell
Hotel (owned by Maude Harrell a dwarf) as described by my Grandmother. In the front, where
Gary was popping firecrackers, is where Uncle Elmer kept his sack of feed for display. This old
store had everything from groceries to livestock feed and was appropriately called a "General
Merchandise Store". Downtown Malakoff was very active this day. Across the street I saw
people going and coming from the Post Office, I remember seeing at least 2 drugstores, one on
each side of the street. Cars lined street and were parked at an angle. Back, farther north, on
the west side of the street was Kirby's Grocery and Dry goods. My Grandmother walked me
down to this store where we found it crowded with shoppers. I saw apples and oranges and nuts
and other goodies that I hoped Santa  would bring, but I was missing that concentrated smell
of those apples as provided by my Uncle's  store, which I can still smell today!!

By the way, Santa did find me that night!!
Uncle Elmer and Aunt Mildred in front of