The Bandera Courier
Bandera Courier
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2012-01-12

Wolters Bros. Store

Carolyn B. Edwards

A friend gave me a plate for Christmas. It exactly matched a bowl I bought at an auction years ago in Boerne. A bouquet of yellow and pink roses decorate the center. On the edge, it says, "Compliments of Wolters Bros. Store...... Shiner, Texas."

For decades, Wolters Bros. Store took up the east corner of the main block of stores in Shiner, off of Main Street, facing the railroad tracks.

A mini department store, Wolters Bros. carried shoes, men's and ladies clothing, lingerie and gloves in the dry goods section. What would today be called a banking center occupied one corner. Groceries and hardware were stocked in a separate building across the alley in back.

Like most stores in those days, Wolters Bros. had high ceilings, at least 12 feet tall, covered with pressed tin. A second floor filled the back third of the building.

Sunlight came in from narrow windows high up on the walls, opened to let in plenty of fresh air which was circulated by rows of slow moving ceiling fans.

Glass display cabinets formed a rectangle in the center of the shop and parallel to the walls. The walls were covered with fine cabinetry and shelves specially fitted to hold a variety of products.

Lingerie, for example, was never out on display. You told the clerk what you needed, and she went to a cabinet full of drawers and began opening them and placing the items on the counter for you to examine. Bras, panties, slips, hosiery were all kept carefully hidden until a customer requested them. Only a discrete placard let the shopper know that certain items were available.

I loved the shoe section of the store. The odor of leather is one of my favorites and in those days all shoes were made of leather. We would get to buy a pair of white shoes just before Easter, and a pair of dark shoes just before school started in September. The old pair would then become our "everyday" shoes, or, if they were still in good condition, handed down to a younger sibling.

When you had made your purchase, the clerk put the receipt and your money into a little cup and screwed it into its cap on a wire above her head. She pulled a handle and the cup flew up the wire to the bookkeeper upstairs.

He checked everything for accuracy, made change, and sent the cup flying back down the wire to the clerk below.

With the financial transaction completed, she pulled a length of wide brown paper from a cast iron holder at the end of the counter, tore it off against the metal cutting bar, and neatly wrapped the purchase, tying it off with string. The string came from a big ball of twine that rumbled around in its own cast iron holder on the counter as the clerk pulled on the loose end.

When we got home, the string and the paper were both carefully removed and saved for later use.