WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Remembering downtown of yester year

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

Driving west on Houston Street in Sherman gave me a start the other day. That automotive repair place near the former Key Memorial United Methodist Church was torn down completely to the ground! Wow! That place had been there since my family moved to Sherman in 1968 (and much longer I will bet!).

I think it was a drive-in type place, such as Mel’s Diner, in the movie “American Graffiti” originally, but all I’ve known it as is a car repair shop. I remember people parking in its lot to go to church on Sundays in the late 1960s. I met the owner once, but I have no history with the place. It’s just sad to see…

Of course, seeing this event, I began thinking of all the places that are different now. There were plenty of examples on Houston Street alone (and I won’t ever be able to name them all!) These are just the major ones I know from my time in Sherman’s past. So, indulge me this trip down memory lane…

Old Iron Post used to be Haring’s Office Supply for many years. It was also a department store in the early years of Sherman, but this was way before my time. The building on the corner of Crockett and Houston streets is the oldest building in Grayson County. When I was a child, it was Jaco’s Men’s Wear. I hear that it was a saloon in its earliest years among other establishments. The Church's downtown Sherman used to be the terminal for the Greyhound Bus Lines.

Hardwicke & Etter was a factory in downtown Sherman, which became Continental Conveyor and now is mostly Presco Products. The O’Reilly’s on far east Houston/Lamar (SH56) streets used to be Piggly Wiggly’s; next door was Wacker’s, which is now a Dollar General. Moving off downtown, but only a little, is Grayson County Appraisal District, which was once White’s Auto Supply, right next to the railroad Tracks on Travis Street.

Continuing west on Washington Street, the chiropractic practice used to be the CableCom building (Post-Newsweek Cable and CableOne before moving to Texoma Parkway—now Sparklight). The convenience store at Washington and US 75 used to be Gray’s Service Station. My father’s best friend from high school – Grady Vincent - operated it for many years. Sherman City Hall used to be the US Post Office, if you can believe that!

C.J.’s coffee was once KFC and before that the site was Griff’s Burger Barn. The former Braum’s Ice Cream store downtown is still vacant…Just off downtown across the highway (US 75) is Wanna Burger, which used to be Watsonburger for decades, even back when I was at Piner Middle School. (Hard to believe, I know!) Italian Affair was once Dude’s Music; and Tracks was once Patrick’s, which was a washateria before that. Dad’s Donuts was once MG’s, which was Bud’s No. 1 originally.

Let’s move on over to Texoma Parkway (former US 75), the other large business district in our fair city. So many changes in the past five decades; it is a lot to keep up with. These are only a few; in fact, I can remember when Taylor Street didn’t come through and that corner was semi-truck companies and open fields! (This is all before the new US 75 was built where it is today.)

La Mesa used to be Bonanza Steak House; the big building which houses Dollar General, Dirt Cheap and Big Lots was once K-mart (before it moved to the new 75 and subsequently closed in 2003). Cellarman’s was a taco chain restaurant; Fera’s was the Kettle Restaurant; and before that the controversial, Sambo’s. 

Wells Fargo was the Texoma National Bank building, long before American Bank and First United. The car title loan company in the parking lot of the old K-mart was Long John Silver’s; do you remember that?!  And don’t forget Gibson’s, Hastings and the original Tom Thumb grocery store, too!

I didn’t include places that have been torn down and simply aren’t any other business now; there are some of those in our history. And of course, I have simply forgotten many other examples, but it is fun to remember what has come before. Some say it is vital that we remember so we know where we are going. I tend to believe in this concept because to have any success, one must have a clear path to go.

And you only know that by which way you have come…

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.