The Commission’s archives are housed in the old Darlington County Jail. The top two floors are where we keep the majority of our files and artifacts, and every time I climb those steep steps, I start to feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I get so excited about what I might discover in those rows and rows of filing cabinets that my heart starts to beat faster and faster.
This morning, I unearthed a file on The Book and Toy Company. Boasting the sale of “all sort of toys, sporting goods, fancy goods and holiday goods,” this store opened in 1890 and was situated on the East side of the Public Square right here in Darlington. Later, in 1909, W.B. Oakes purchased the business and had his son, W.J. Oakes, manage the store.
Among pictures, receipts, old journals, and other items, I found this charming advertisement in the newspaper on December 12, 1911:
On Friday night Dec. 22, the Book & Toy Co., in accordance with their usual custom, will send up a large balloon with a small doll in it, and the finder upon presenting the doll at their store will be allowed to select free of charge, any doll in their stock.
The Book & Toy Co.
WJ Oakes, Mgr.
Don’t miss the chance to participate in some really fun and educational events.
Max, isn’t history fascinating? Looks like that store carried a lot more than books and toys. I remember the old wood-planked storage shed behind my grandmother’s house (built around 1900 or so) in Panama City, FL, where I grew up. There were old farming tools, a spinning wheel, a butter churn, and who knows what else. When she died, my parents tried to buy the place on payments. They were “outvoted” by my mother’s sisters & brother, who wanted their money “NOW!” I believe they received about a thousand bucks apiece. The place is now a parking lot across the street from the Bay County courthouse overlooking beautiful Massalina Bayou. I believe when it was torn down all the contents (shed included) were hauled to the dump for disposal. Such a shame. Makes you think of all the historical treasures that now rot away in our landfills across the U.S.
Anyway, nice bit of Darlington’s history. Thanks for bringing it to the public’s attention!
Thanks, Mike. That’s a great (and sad) story about your grandmother’s house in Florida. History is fascinating. Every day I go into our archives here and learn something new, and, usually, something worth sharing.