The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 103
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The History and Modus Operandi of a Small Merchant
Model during the early postwar years. Numerous clerks were added near
the time of Lanier's death, and a complete remodeling was accom-
plished with the transition from the classic center-door, two show win-
dow front, to an all-glass elevation with side door opening, thus allowing
a complete interior view at street level.
While I remember my father's propensity for helping people finan-
cially from my early youth-including his half brother, Etheridge, cer-
tain college students, and a niece and sister-in-law through business
school-such benevolence expanded markedly in the latter World War
II years as store profits grew. But without the recollections of lead clerk
Bess Childers, employed at The Model over the period from 1939 until
1949, I would not have known of certain covert benefactions.
Lanier loaned to people banks shunned, who had little other financial
recourse. For example, Bess said he had loaned to a retired banker who
had fallen upon hard times. Once when Lanier was to be out of town, he
had instructed her to receive this man's and other loan recipients' pay-
ments in his absence, and to place them "in an empty shoe box in the
rear of the store." I never knew about these "shoe box" loans. More sig-
nificantly, I was surprised to learn from Bess that my father had made it
possible for her to buy a home from Coley Campbell. Bess also knew of
the store's practice of discounting prices by io percent for certain rela-
tives, subject to Lanier's approval-and I knew of similar or greater
courtesies for ministers.48
To write of Lanier's business career without full treatment of his rela-
tionship with the black community would fail to account for a large seg-
ment of local customers and a major amount of his store's patronage in
particular. Not only this, but such an omission would diminish his role
as community philanthropist.
It should be noted that Lanier grew up under the mores of southern
gentlemen, his father having been raised in a family with slaves. This
background, and the time period in question (pre-1949) help explain
the condescending tenor of his following remarks. I must say, however,
that I was not aware of any intent of disparagement from firsthand obser-
vations. My father's standard greeting to black male customers with
whom he was not acquainted was "Come in, O'Boy, what can I do for you
today?" (enunciated "O' Boy," not "Old Boy"). Several times I also heard
him greet black men, idling near his store front, with the invitation,
"Come here, O'Boy; take this dime and go get yourself a good cigar."
For my mother of similar heritage, the standard appellation for
unknown black female customers was "Girl." "Come in, Girl," she would
18 Childers to Lanier, Sept. 5, 1996, and Jan. 10, 1990, interviews (retired banker and Coley
Campbell references, respectively).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/131/: accessed December 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.