publications

Good Old Clerking Days

Merchandising has come a long way from the days of the general store, as recalled here in the

1930s files of the Works Progress Administration from the Nebraska State Historical Society.



“I have often thought of those good old days when Henry and I sold $2 shoes for a dollar a

foot. I believe Henry occasionally slept in the store on a tick filled with the original straw

that broke the camel’s back. A few corn husks and a cob or two got mixed in with the straw–

but it was a bed just the same.



“When Henry first began operations in the store my father’s partner was Charley Tigges, a

mighty fine fellow, but he kept us busy. There never was a dull moment. If I leaned on the

broom for a minute or laid the feather duster aside, just to get a breathing spell, Charley

would delegate me to catching flies and putting them into a new patent fly trap which we

would park in the display window to boost the sale of the traps.



“Speaking of display windows, in those days our store’s windows were like Woolworth’s

today, only the arrangement wasn’t as good. We would pack each window with all kinds of

jimcracks. Passersby could spend an entire afternoon or evening looking into those windows.



“Nothing was lacking in the display. We had sunbonnets, garden rakes, writing tablets,

underwear, stick candy, flower seeds, gum boots and maybe some leaflets from Henry

George, great promoter of the single tax idea.



“Frank Riif, well-known farmer, would ‘admire’ the display and swear to all on high that it

was the finest he had ever seen–that nothing like it ever was attempted in Prairie du Chien,

Wis., where he hailed from. And what Frank didn’t know about window dressing wouldn’t

make a big book.



“Maybe Henry recalls the time a fleshy woman from Menominee inquired about a corset.

Henry asked her, ‘What bust?’ and she replied, ‘Nothing, it’s just worn out.’



“Those good old clerking days. Yep, a pair of shoe laces ‘thrown in’ with every pair of

brogans, and ‘free’ suspenders with each pair of pants.”


Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.
Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.