Dub Thomas Recalls Career of Near 50 Years on Square
Hood County News – December 2, 1982
|Editor’s Note: Dub Thomas has been a businessman in Granbury since 1933. His enterprise, Dub’s Place, recently closed and became a part of local history. Here Thomas shares some of his thoughts of founding his business and making it work for just short of 50 years.|
My first business venture began in September, 1933 when I traded a Model A Ford for a one-pump gasoline station and hamburger stand which was located on the second block of East Pearl across from the Clay Johnson house. Gas sold for 15 cents a gallon and hamburgers six for 25 cents.
The first paving of streets in Granbury began at that time at about the 400 block of East Pearl. The paving blocked off my business and I moved farther east to about 630 East Pearl where the Marina is located. There were no street numbers then. The paving extended on West Pearl to the 1000 block where the Dairy King is located. My business in the new location was progressing nicely, but the disaster of a kerosene stove exploding caused the building and contents to burn to the ground and with it all of my clothes. That was in December of 1933.
I established a small business on the east side of the courthouse square in January 1934 and opened it under the name of Dub’s Place. The gas pump was not lost in the fire and I moved it to the new location and sold Independent gasoline. It still sold for 15 cents a gallon and at one time during a gas war, gasoline sold for 8 cents.
I only paid $25 down on the small 14 x 20 sheet iron building and had the underground tank filled on credit. When that was sold, I filled up the tank again and paid for the first one. I traded for chickens, horses, cars, tractors, threshing machines, goats, sheep, guns or whatever. I also stocked a few fan belts, cold patches, tobacco, candy, etc. The shelves held many empty cartons just to fill up space and appear to be well stocked.
While the street paving was in progress, I employed my brother Cecil to manage Dub’s Place and I operated the finishing machine until all the paving was completed. I had previously worked on road construction and really enjoyed the work.
Not long after losing all my clothes in the fire, my girl friend, Callie Newberry, from Chillicothe and her roommate called and said they were coming to Granbury and wanted me to go to the stock show with them. Not being able financially to buy a new suit, I borrowed one from Cecil. He was my right hand man to help me out in times of trouble.
During the next few months I made several trips to Chillicothe and Quanah to see Callie who was teaching school there. I finally married her in June, 1934. She was a great help to me, working in the business. She was the one who got me started keeping books. Not keeping books and accounts didn’t bother me, but she insisted we keep records.
In 1934, I carried the mail on the star route from Granbury to Thorp Spring and would be gone from 9 a.m. till noon. Pete Rowe and Callie kept the business at Dub’s Place going while I delivered the mail.
Business continued to grow and I added a sheet iron garage to the rear of the building. Vernon Sims was hired as mechanic. As the years went by, an expansion of the building was needed. In 1946 the 2-story concrete tile building was erected and I began selling Exxon gasoline and products. At that time, Exxon was known as Humble. My brother Cecil came back from the war and wanted to go in business with me. Also my Dad couldn’t let the boys outdo him and he pitched in to help. Cecil didn’t stay long with me in the business until he let school teaching, coaching, and General Dynamics take all of his time. My Dad had to help in the grocery store at Thorp Spring much of the time, but he really enjoyed being around Dub’s Place and scuffling and joking with the customers. All of the regular customers were his friends and he was an excellent public relations man.
We continued with increased departments of tires, auto parts, etc., which included a paint and body shop and a larger garage. Ewell Reed was shop manager and mechanic. He employed Daniel McCormick and Vaymon Tomlinson. Later Frank Holly, Pat Jones, and others were there. I don’t have a record of all the employees for the 48 years. Four other men were servicing the pumps and fixing flats. Christine Liles was secretary and part of the time her husband worked there also. Dub’s Place operated a wrecker service at that time, the only one in Granbury. In addition, we had road service and vulcanized tractor tires for the territory surrounding Granbury. This included Tolar, Lipan, Glen Rose, Whitney, Cleburne, and Weatherford. Farmers were happy to have the boys change those big tires on their tractors without having to bring them to town.
I was a member of the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department for several years and in addition to the wrecker service the going was rough at times. Sometimes I would just get home at night from a wrecker call and crawl into the warm bed and be snoozing, then the fire whistle would blow. Doctors were not the only ones who were called out in those days. The first time I met Dr. Brock was to pull his car out of a snow bank north of town.
During the war, car parts and tires were scarce and many times the night watchman, police dispatcher would call me back down to Dub’s Place for parts or gasoline. My wife always stayed until I was home again. She just knew I would be robbed or knocked in the head.
We opened Dub’s Place at 6 a.m. and stayed until the picture show crowd went home at 1 a.m. That was the usual schedule. The boys Cecil’s and Marion’s age (teenagers) would come by to visit with us. They enjoyed just having a place to eat candy and drink pop or just talk. Several times their mothers would call to check on them and say “If they are with you, it’s okay.” We thought the boys were among the greatest and we enjoyed their company.
By 1973, time and toil had changed me. I no longer could, as the saying goes, “keep up with the pack,” and I turned Dub’s Place over to our son Billy Joe, known to most people as Scooter. He had grown up working in the business and it was not new to him. It was quite a change for him as he had been away several years working for chambers of commerce in several towns and cities in Texas. Scooter’s son Derrell also worked at Dub’s Place. Three generations of Thomases were employed at the same time. Scooter’s wife Kathy was bookkeeper.
In 1978 Scooter sold the business to W.B. Hopson. I have told several people that when Dub’s Place was sold, I just went with the business as part of the fixtures and continued to serve the public as parts salesman. All the heavy work with tires and flats was history.
After four years as owner, W.B. Hopson has sold Dub’s Place building and closed the business. Passers by no longer hear the loud noise of tire changing, air compressors, air wrenches or truck motors running. I could not be idle and quit work and go home and sit in the rocking chair, and so I have taken a job as parts salesman at Steve’s Small Engines and Lawn Supply.
I want to thank all of my friends and customers for your loyalty and business throughout the 48 years.