Allen’s discount store was once on Main St. Photo courtesy Museum of Buford
By Lynn Bowman
With everything that has been going on with me lately, or should I say, not going on (because I have been under the weather), I decided to utilize the content from three different past articles to meet the next deadline for this issue of our newspaper.
This recent snowfall makes me long for more snow. This yearning is surely rooted in my childhood; remembering those snow days, being out of school when everything seemed to slow down, stop, or even go backwards for a while. It too is remembering through a child’s eye the magical way that the landscape transformed into a different world, making everything look clean and beautiful. It could be the memories of my brother and me sledding down Friendship Road in what we believed to be Georgia’s fastest sled. Two rails, constructed from 2×6’s turned edgeways, rounded in the front like a streamliner, reinforced with a strip of stainless steel from the leading edge of an old Chris Craft boat, mounted on top with a plywood rectangle large enough for the two of us to hug sitting up facing forward. Yes, Dad had built the perfect sled.
Thinking of past snow events, I researched Buford’s weather statistics. As it turned out, on January 24, 1940, we had a record snowfall of 41.9 inches in one day! The other years with significant snowfall are given below. Remember these numbers are for the year and not one event as in January, 1940.
• 43.2 inches in 1940
• 21.0 inches in 1898
• 17.0 inches in 1960
• 12.0 inches in 1895
• 10.5 inches in 1930
During the 1920’s-60’s, Buford supported two discount variety stores on Main Street: Allen’s and Fambro’s. The building for Allen’s is now occupied by Aqua Terra. Prickett’s opened in 1940 and was sold to Fambro’s in 1961. These stores were our connection to an American institution — the five and dime. Every town of any size would usually have at least one “dime store,” and the larger cities would support several. In metropolitan areas you would see Woolworth’s, the largest and best known of these stores. Pre-WWI versions of these five and ten cent stores would stock the shelves with mass-produced, low cost household goods priced at no more than ten cents…really! They later evolved to carry other more expensive items, but they still offered a discount environment. The closest thing to a five and dime that we have today is the variety of dollar stores around town. These may be economical, but they lack the personality and ability to create memories we found in the old dime stores.
Shopping for Christmas at Allen’s was an exciting event for me as a young boy. I would bolt down a set of old wooden stairs to the basement and rush to the area devoted to toys. Three or four rows of toys were stacked to the ceiling. The thought of those shelves conjures all sorts of memories. As I look back, it all seems so simple now, but maybe the simplicity is what helped make it a magical time in Buford.