Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Wide-A-Wake

Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
December 15, 2009
The Wide-A-Wake Store in Frederick, Christmas 1918

Wide-A-Wake was Christmas-Central in Early Frederick
In Tillman County’s early days, Christmas must have been an especially wonderful holiday.
Although money was tight for most area residents and luxuries were few, the prospect of store-bought candy, simple Christmas gifts, or baskets of apples or oranges were rare holiday treats, and every community in the new county contained stores and businesses where Christmas treats could be purchased.
Frederick had many dry-good, hardware, and mercantile stores where simple traditional Christmas shopping could be done, but one of the most popular was the Wide-A-Wake variety store.
The Wide-A-Wake was purchased by the Tomlinson family in 1911 and, according to the Tillman County History Vol. I, was located then at Main and Grand. Shortly thereafter, though, the Tomlinsons moved the Wide-A-Wake to the 200 block of West Grand into the building where the City of Frederick’s drive-though is now located. Eventually the Tomlinson family purchased buildings on the west and south sides of that location and expanded the business.
According to the Tillman County History, though, for a brief time in 1918, the Wide-A-Wake was located in the 100 block of West Grand in the building that now houses Sweet Magnolia’s Antique Mall.
The Tillman County archives photo of the Wide-A-Wake shown above, taken at Christmastime in about 1918, appears to be at the Sweet Magnolia’s location.
It pictures Christmas merchandise on the sidewalk in front of the store. Red wagons imprinted with "Wide-A-Wake" on the sides and wooden buckets of Christmas fruit and candies are ready for sale to holiday shoppers.
A large sign with a picture of Santa reads "Christmas Toys, Holiday Goods, for Sale Here." Another sign reads "We Have a Doll for Every Child in Tillman Co." A third sign reads "Remember the Loved Ones at Home. They Haven't Forgotten You."
A close look at the photo shows that snow has accumulated in the street in front of the display.
The Tomlinson business remained a Frederick institution until the 1970s.
In the mid-1930s, the family changed the name of the business from the Wide-A-Wake to Tomlinson and Son”
The Tomlinson family was part owner of the national TG&Y chain of stores (“T” standing for Tomlinson) and in the 1960s the Tomlinson store in Frederick became a TG&Y, which it remained until its closing.

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