Friday, April 26, 2013
Every time I walk into the S.C. Maritime Museum at 729 Front St. in Georgetown, a wave of nostalgia washes over me. This is the former location of McCrory’s 5¢ & 10¢ store that enchanted me in my childhood.
I guess I was a dopey kid. When we visited any of my favorite places (Gunn Church, Brookgreen Gardens, Atalaya at Huntington Beach), I imagined that I lived there by myself.
I walked around thinking, “This is where I’ll sleep, this is where I’ll play, and this is where I’ll fix my meals.” I never thought about where I would bathe. What six-year old kid worries about where to take a bath?
McCrory’s store on Front Street was just as fascinating to me. When we visited my great-aunt Maggie Carraway on Prince Street, my brother Rhett and I dashed out of her backdoor, took a well-worn foot path to Front Street, and there, in front of us, was the majestic McCrory’s store.
“A Walk Down Front Street,” published by the Georgetown County Historical Society in 2011, gives an excellent history of Georgetown’s McCrory’s store.
In 1916, the McCrory Bros. Co. of New York announced that they would be opening a store at 727 and 729 Front St. They tore down the brick wall adjoining the two buildings and by April of 1917 were open for business.
In 1939, the building was condemned by the city and demolished. A new “modern” structure was built at the cost of $50,000 and was open for business by January, 1940. This is the building I remember.
Stand in front of the S.C. Maritime Museum today and try to imagine the huge display windows, across the entire storefront, filled with items sold deep within the cavernous building. The pairs of double-doors leading into the store were, and still are, heavy and substantial.
One thing I loved about McCrory’s was all of the beautiful wood – wood floors (which are still there today), wooden display cases, and wooden cabinets lining the walls.
Almost as soon as you walked in the door, you were met with glass display cases full of penny candy.
My brother always had a tough time deciding between the Mary Janes, licorice whips, wax lips, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.
I was dazzled by all of the costume jewelry. There seemed to be tons of it and I believed everything to be real gold and gems. Hey, rhinestones look a lot like diamonds to a kid. There were Bakelite bangles in every color and tiny crosses on chains. And the perfume counter! “Evening in Paris” was something you saved up for and gave to your Mama for Christmas.
The toy department had one of everything and I remember buying marbles, jacks, kaleidoscopes, and paddle balls. Oh! Don’t forget the balsa wood airplanes that you wound up with a rubber band.
I often pretended that I would be accidentally locked inside the store at closing time, never to be seen again. Everything I needed to survive was there – clothes, toys, candy – and once again, I didn’t care that they didn’t have a bathtub. After all, the Sampit River was just outside the back door.
McCrory’s was a magic place and it was devastating when it closed, probably in 1959. I went through old Winyah High School yearbooks at the library today, and the last ad McCrory’s bought was for that year.
“A Walk Down Front Street” cleared up something for me. I also remember the New Store being in that building. This was interesting. In 1916, the New Store and Our Drug Company were located at 727-729 Front St. They moved out to make room for McCrory’s that same year. The New Store moved next-door to 731-733 Front. (That building was eventually razed.) The New Store subsequently moved to 936 Front.
After McCrory’s closed, the New Store returned to 727-729 Front St. in 1964. That business lasted until 1988.
Visit the S.C. Maritime Museum and take a step back in time. They have fascinating exhibits ... and lots of wood.
To the Georgetown County Historical Society ... thanks for the memories.
I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.