OPINION

WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: 7-Eleven

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

Growing up in Sherman in the 1970s, there was a mecca: the local 7 Eleven convenience store.

I know they still exist in other cities, but they left Texoma many years ago. As a boy and pre-teen and even teenager, these were THE place to go. You could get anything there; but mostly, you could get snacks. In the early 1970s, my go-go snack was a candy bar and a generic 7 Eleven canned soda. Grand total? 25 cents!!! (26 cents with tax)

Yes, the cold drink was 15 cents and all the candy bars were 10 cents. Can you imagine a Snickers or Baby Ruth bar for ten cents? I can because I got to live it; and I was usually at a 7 Eleven when I did.

Another reason I frequented such establishments was my newly found hobby: collecting comic books. Every 7 Elevenhad the ‘spinner racks’ with all the new comics; and I had to check to see if my favorite books had come. It was a weekly ritual; and sometimes, daily. Yeah, I got to know the clerks really well…

And who can forget the advent of the Slurpee or the Big Gulp?! They originated at 7 Eleven; and it was cool (see what I did there?!) to get either one on a hot summer day. Back in the day, they were cheap, too. If I am remembering right, the clerk had to serve the Slurpee to you from behind the counter. This was long before self-serve was a concept.

A quick history lesson: Southland Corporation, of Dallas, started such ‘convenient stores’ due to the growth of the middle class and suburbia. There was an emphasis on convenience; and quick access to goods was the only way to go to help consumers in a bind on the way home or late at night. At first, they were the Southland Ice Company stores, which began to sell eggs on the side in 1927; then, they became ‘Tote’m Stores’ boasting some 3,000 items (including ice). The 7 Eleven concept came from being open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. (They have been 24-hour stores for decades now.)

The 7 Eleven store was always being innovative with such products as the aforementioned Slurpee and Big Gulp, but shot gun shells were available in the 1970s and today, there are taco bars and margaritas to go. I’ll bet no one thought it would evolve to such ends when they added eggs and milk to the ice!

But back to Sherman; my local 7 Eleven was the one on Lamar Street (SH 56) across from Piggly Wiggly. By the end of my high school days, I knew every clerk by name. It was a cool place to go. But it wasn’t the only 7 Eleven I visited. No, I was always looking for that next comic book (and/or candy bar); so I made it a point to visit them all. I also went to the other ‘C-stores’ in town, but that’s another story.

And remember, I’m relying on memory for this list, so any I miss is solely my responsibility…

My next favorite one was the first one I ever entered. It was the former Cabell’s Food Store under the overpass at Grand Avenue and Frisco Road. Southland bought Cabell’s Dairy stores at one point and renamed them all 7 Elevens, but I remember when it was a ‘Cabell’s.’ Of course, when I first went there, the overpass didn’t exist. It was nestled into that corner where all the train tracks were. It had a big parking lot; and I think it was the first one to close. (An overpass will do such a thing to a business!)

If you continue down Grand (which becomes Taylor Street) and go all the way to Travis Street, you will come to the next 7 Eleven. Of course, in the 1970s, you couldn’t go that way because there was no street from US 75 (Texoma Parkway now) to Travis Street. So, you had to go all the way around to the intersection of Travis and US 75 to make your way to that 7 Eleven store, which is a Lone Star Foods Store nowadays. And you could almost throw a rock to the next 7 Eleven store on Texas Street, near MG’s in the adjacent neighborhood. It was in that same building as Mom’s Bakery.

Remember the Bavarian Rug place on west Lamberth Road? It was a 7 Eleven before it was that longtime carpet source; I didn’t go to it much as it was the furthest one from my house. I’m not completely sure, but I think there was another one on Grant Street, where there is a church now. It is where Grant used to dead end into McGee Street in West Sherman, just off Washington Street a few blocks.

Another 7 Eleven which converted to a church (see what I did there, too?!) was on Gribble Street in south Sherman. I went to this one a lot of times as it was actually the closest one to my house, but tucked into a neighborhood that I seldom went through. Then there was the one on south Crocket in REALLY south Sherman. For a lot of years, it was basically the last business – besides the industries – in that end of town. It is still a convenience store, but has gone through many, many owners over the years.

And don’t forget the one on Travis Street across from Kam Korners; it is a tax service business now, but back then, it was a 7 Eleven where you could see Griff’s Burger Bar across the way.

And finally, there was the 7 Eleven on Sunset Street across from the other Piggly Wiggly in town. It was in Westside Village; and probably the more fancier as 7 Elevens go. I don’t know; it just seemed to be the ‘coolest’ of them all when I would visit. Perhaps, it was just the atmosphere on that side of town…?!

All I know is that for a young man with a new driver’s license and use of his parents’ car, it was ‘Oh, Thank Heaven for 7 Eleven’ for a few years in the 1970s…!

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.