Demolition reveals old advertisement

Friday, October 10, 2003
Ken and Kyle Lomax stand in front of old painted brick wall advertising work clothes. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

Little did Ken Lomax realize that the expansion of his business and tearing down of an old building next door would create so much excitement among local historians. The demolition exposed a painted wall advertisement from many years ago.

"I have had so many people stop by to ask about the old sign and share some of the local history with me," Lomax said. Lomax is the owner of Monette Discount Drug, 214 W. Drew Street.

Lomax recently purchased the building at 216 W. Drew Street with intentions to tear it down and make way for a drive through window and extra parking. He purchased the building from Maxie Jones who operated Maxie's Auto Parts and a garage on the north side of the building. Former owners of the property were Claude Earl Barnett (Barnett's Auto Parts and Garage) and Frank Orsburn (Frank Orsburn's Auto Parts). Before the building was an auto parts store, it was a Lion Service Station.

The demolition of the building exposed a painted wall advertising on the adjacent 214 W. Drew Street structure, which read "Dry goods, shoes, work clothes sanforized, tailored sizes-a fit for every build."

Opinions vary as to who actually painted the advertisement on the wall. Former businesses at that same location included Arthur Kohn Clothing Store, Gibbons Mercantile, Gilbert Murrell Grocery Store, L.B. Hubbard Store, Simm's Variety Store, Palmer Dry Goods, and finally Monette Discount Drug.

A 1920's photo on page 71 of the Monette centennial book "Ties That Bind" shows a drug store located at the 214 W. Drew address.

"Bob Fisher moved here from Black Oak in the 20's and started a drug store on this corner," Lomax said. "In 1932 he built Bob's City Drug Store on the corner of Drew and Highway 139."

Lomax purchased Bob's City Drug Store in September 1974, changing the name to Ken's City Drug. In 1992 Lomax reestablished his business at 214 W. Drew and renamed it Monette Discount Drug.

The Lomax family is very involved in the drug store business. Kyle joined his father in the business two years ago after completing his pharmaceutical training. Ken and his wife, the former Beverly Owens, of Lake City, purchased Plaza Drug at 301 Apache Drive in Jonesboro four years ago. Mrs. Lomax manages the Jonesboro store. Kyle's wife, the former Kass Qualls, of Monette, is also a pharmacist and co-owner of Pharmacy Solutions, Inc. in Jonesboro.

Floyd Williamson of Monette recalls vividly when there was a Lion Service Station on the corner of Drew and Nance Streets as he worked there after returning from WWII.

"Lester Rand wanted out of the station business and asked me if I wanted to run the station for him," Williamson said. "Allen Williamson, my uncle, owned the business and was planning to go to Texas to work in construction. I ran the station just a few weeks, then went back to farming with my parents L.L. and Lucille (Hogan) Williamson.

"The Lion station sold canned Pennzoil for 25 cents a quart and bulk for 15 cents a quart," Williamson said. "Gasoline ran from 20.9 cents to 30.9 cents per gallon. We had a tank storage underneath the two pumps out front. We did lube jobs in the back of the building.

"Barry McFarlin owned the Lion Bulk Plant on the north side of East Main Street and supplied our station. Later on George Holland bought the Lion plant."

"Oris Birmingham ran an Exxon Station on the west side of us, where the bank flag poles are now. We had a morning routine, we would go out and hose off the pavement around the stations and stop to visit.

"The Monette business community has always been real close and worked as neighbors with one another. There is a lot of history incased in these old businesses. It is nice for it to surface from time to time and give us reason to reflect and remember."

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