Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wide-A-Wake was early store

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press, October 11, 2011
Photo of Wide-A-Wake store front from Frederick Leader industrial edition, July 1916.

Tomlinson Store was Frederick Institution
Rows of great toy counters, the smell of fresh popcorn, and an awesome candy counter where purchases were scooped to order and filled in paper sacks.
Those are the things that I remember most about the Tomlinson store in downtown Frederick when I was a kid in the 1950s and ‘60s. I’ll bet that most folks “of a certain age” who were youngsters in the Frederick during a span of 70 years have similar memories.
Milton Tomlinson, who died on September 25 at age 96, was the third generation of the Tomlinson family who owned and operated the store that served Frederick shoppers for seven decades.
The Tomlinsons’ Frederick store actually dated back to 1911 when Milton’s grandfather, W.M. Tomlinson, traded a ranch in the Schofield Community northeast of Frederick to Josiah Goodin for a store in Frederick called The Wide-A-Wake. The Tomlinsons operated the Wide-a-Wake from 1911 until the store was renamed Tomlinson and Son in 1936.
Wide-A-Wake pre-1918
The family also operated a store in Grandfield, and in 1935 Milton’s dad R.E. Tomlinson would be one of the founders of the national TG&Y chain of stores – Tomlinson, Gosselin and Young.
An extensive article in The Frederick Leader’s Industrial Edition from July 21, 1916, described the Tomlinsons’ Wide-A-Wake. In 1916, the Wide-A-Wake was located at 202 West Grand, current location of the City of Frederick drive-through.

“A more appropriate name could not be given to a business institution than that of the Wide-A-Wake variety store. Owned by W.M. Tomlinson and Son and managed by Rawden E. Tomlinson, this store is the largest in its line in Tillman county and equaled by few in the great southwest. The stock of goods is equal to that carried by any of the large variety stores in the larger cities. Everything that could be expected to be found in a variety store is carried at the Wide-A-Wake.
“This store makes a specialty of 5, 10, and 25-cent goods and being a member of the National Five, Ten and Twenty-five Cent merchants, this firm is able to buy merchandise at prices denied the average merchant, which makes it possible to sell articles to the trade at a price far below that charged by the general store carrying the same line of goods as that found at the Wide-A-Wake.
“The present business was established in 1904 and was purchased by the present owners in 1911. The amount invested at the time the present owners took charge of the business has been doubled and today a stock is carried that would do credit to a store in a city four times the size of Frederick.
“Not only has the stock in this store been doubled in volume since the present owners took charge, but the volume of business has been doubled over receipts of 1911. This advance in business speaks well for the management and the courteous treatment accorded everyone who enters the store by the managers and the corps of clerks.
“W.M. Tomlinson and his son, R.E. Tomlinson, have resided in Tillman county since the county’s organization. They have shown an enthusiastic booster spirit ever since identifying themselves with the citizenship of Tillman county and Frederick. Mr. Tomlinson is a firm believer in the great future of Frederick and the great southwest.
“His son is a member of the younger class of business men and is an enthusiast about the future of Frederick. He is taking up the booster spirit which has predominated so pronouncedly in his father.
“The Tomlinsons came to Oklahoma from Kansas, realizing the vast opportunities to be offered in the great southwest, and have taken advantage of those opportunities, as have many others, and today their business house stands on a firm foundation, prepared to care for the needs of everyone in this line. It is a valuable asset to Frederick and Tillman county.
“This store employs five clerks to handle the trade, in addition to W.M. Tomlinson and his son. While all are efficient, this being the only kind of help the Wide-A-Wake employs, among the clerks are some extremely proficient in the mercantile business. Among them are Mrs. Mae Coupland, saleslady, and James Jones, a practical young man of sterling qualities, who has been connected with the store for three years.
“The Wide-A-Wake store is located at 202 West Grand Avenue, in a large building, 30 by 90 feet Every foot of floor space is utilized in the display of goods and the store is filled from the front door to the rear with bargains that can only be secured elsewhere in the stores in the larger cities.
“In addition to the 5, 10, and 25-cent departments, which are very extensive, this store also has an extensive line of variety goods and is the school book depository for Tillman county, where all school books are handled.
“Space will not permit the enumeration of all the lines of merchandise to be found at this store, but suffice it to say that if you need anything to be found in an up-to-date variety store or a 5, 10, and 25-cent store you cannot find a better place to trade than at the Wide-A-Wake.”
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According to Volume II of the Tillman County History (1978), when the Tomlinsons purchased the Wide-A-Wake in 1911, the store was located at Main and Grand in Frederick.
Soon after, the business was moved to 202 West Grand (the west part of the current Frederick City Hall).
For a brief time prior to 1918, the business was located in the Perkins-Timberlake building, current site of Sweet Magnolia Antique Mall.
In 1918 the Tomlinsons purchased a building from A.H. Krause on South 9th Street, across the street from the Ramona Theatre.
In 1935, Tomlinson and Son further expanded by purchasing the large building at 210 West Grand that had for many years housed the T.W. Jenkins Dry Goods Store, Nuf Sed Cleaners, and City Barber Shop. This is the building that most of us remember today as the Tomlinson store.
The store became Tomlinson’s TG&Y in 1966, and operated as a TG&Y until it closed in the early 1980s.
W.M. Tomlinson died in 1929.
R.E. Tomlinson died in 1948.
From Tillman County History Vol. II (1978), this 1927 photo shows inside of the Wide-A-Wake. Pictured are several members of the Tomlinson family and store clerks. Inset at bottom left are photos of the three generations of Tomlinsons who managed the Frederick store: W.M. Tomlinson, R.E. Tomlinson, and Milton Tomlinson.

The 1911 Wide-Awake was located at 202 West Grand, site of the current City Hall Drive-Through (left in above photo). In 1935 the Tomlinsons aquired the large building at 210 West Grand which would house the store for more than 50 years (right in photo). The Tomlinson building is empty today and in need of major restoration.
In 1918 the Tomlinsons purchased a building on South 9th from Frederick builder A.H. Krause. Today the building sits empty, in need of major repair.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors.

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