Many Saturdays and a few other days, families went to town but had to be back at their farms before sundown. Delay in getting home would set our dairy cows to bawling. Milk cows had to be fed and milked twice a day. If late, the milk might be squirting from some of the four nipples on big udders.
Dad drove the 1917 Ford delivery truck, Mom at his side, my brother Jim and me sitting on pillows in the back. Ninth Street and Broadway near Hays Hardware was like a magnet to farmers. Our neighbor, Kitty, unmarried, groomed horse and buggy and went almost every Saturday.
"I like going to Columbia, driving back and forth on Broadway to see and be seen," she’d say.
Going to Columbia on Saturdays was a treat for most kids.
Jim and I had two sets of friends: those we saw at Olivet Church and those we knew from University Elementary School and U-High. Rural families often met their children at Hays Hardware near the dime store.
What a hardware store! Big things, small things, farm things, city things! Most exciting of all kinds were in Hays walls of drawers. A glance at those walls demanded a second look. Each drawer had one small item firmly attached to its front. Large drawers near the floor contained lamp chimneys and other large, lightweight items. The fragile lamp chimneys were safely packed where they were easily reached. Looking up, we saw medium to small drawers for nuts and bolts of all sizes.
Near the ceiling, I located beautiful sleds for children and wondered how they got up so high - and why? Where were ice skates? Hays had absolutely everything, and he and his helpers could find lamp wicks in daytime and ice skates in summers. Where was the clutter?
Those walls of drawers required a ladder on rollers and a high track leading from one end of the store to the other. The workmen climbed up and down to fill the orders for people like Dad - a farmer who did his own repairs and operated a complete dairy. Hays had all of those cabinets and drawers filled and could locate what customers needed, at a moment’s notice.
It would be great to own and operate a store that had everything - like Hays’ store. We not only used Hays Hardware as a meeting place, Dad usually needed something from there, or he wouldn’t have made the trip.
Jacque, a dealer, rented space in Hays’ front display and decorated with a local artist’s small handmade "little people." Mine!