Austin Street Tour Locate on map Go ahead and turn right. To the left under its diagonal drive through is the service station that was first Vaughn’s and then Penn’s. The building with the large plate glass windows on the opposite corner was always vacant in the 50’s. North of it was a dry cleaners, whose name changed from time to time. At least one of the owners was George Rogers, who once called the business Glo-Kath-Ann for his three daughters. Adjacent to the sometimes Ranger Dry Cleaners remains the façade of the old Columbia Movie Theater, which must have shown its last picture show sometime in the very early 50’s. It was later remodeled into the law offices of Dewey Cox. Before the alley came Beck’s Cafe (formerly Mrs. Higdon’s), another popular eatery with high school students.
Across the street from Beck’s was the entrance to Anderson- Pruitt Chevrolet dealership. In later years the Andersons must have bought out the Pruitt’s share as that name was dropped.
Crossing the alley from Anderson- Pruitt stood the Southland Hotel, but the location burns in the memory of most residents as that of the Tower Movie Theater, whose entry was actually through the lobby of the hotel. At one time it was possible to go to a Saturday matinee for kids and buy a bag of popcorn for a whole dime! Later it would cost fourteen cents as the popcorn would go from a penny to a nickel! This theater as well as the later constructed drive-in movie on Ranger Hill was owned and operated by Herbert Rapp.
Don’t forget to stop at the unique stop signs, a mere raised metal plate in the middle of the brick street. Proceed across Main and down North Austin (also the Caddo Highway). We’ve been here before with the P & Q Realty Building to the left and the Paramount Hotel to the right. Across the alley on the left was the Ranger Steam Laundry, later remodeled and renamed Joy Dry Cleaners. After the laundry was a vacant area that may date back to the time of the Depression, although a snow cone stand some summers made its appearance in that spot. On the corner with Walnut Street is the office building for Texas Electric, the utility. On the left side is a white brick building that once was the Post Office Service Station. Next to it is the Ranger Mattress Factory owned by the Herwecks and a grocery known as Hess’s.
After the alley is the Ranger Clinic, where a number of doctors had offices. Sometimes as many as three or four were practicing there at a time. Among them were Watkins, Harris, White, and Mims. Next door was a smaller but similar looking building with the offices of the town’s dentist, Dr. Downtain. Across from the clinics were three businesses: a feed and seed store under the Red Chain franchise once managed by Keith McDonald; the Ranger Locker Plant, which killed and processed livestock to custom order; and a building on the southeast corner remembered only as always vacant. What in the 50’s was a feed store during the Depression housed a WPA agency that provided seamstresses jobs making clothes for poor families. The long vacant building on the corner early in the war years was a point of mobilization for Company I of the National Guard. At the next intersection on the northwest corner of Cherry was a convenience sort of store. The second floor of the long white building on the east side of North Austin between the alley and Walnut Street served a very special purpose during the Depression. It was a Works Progress Administration (WPA) agency named Housekeeping Aid, which taught skills to the unemployed, such as bookbinding and home care of the sick as well as cooking, meal preparation, and nutrition. Parts of it may also have been apartments. On the ground floor on the south end was a bakery belonging to the Schooleys, whose daughter Sally Ann provided the brand name for their baked bread, cakes, and other goodies. Immediately next to the alley was a dry cleaners named Sloan’s. The former Schooley Bakery passed into the hands of the Carwiles, who operated it both in its south-end location and at the extreme north end of the same building on the corner with Walnut. A major portion of this building in the middle of the block housed Adams Grocery, a multi-generational family-owned store, where it was possible to buy groceries on credit and to have them delivered. Adams had previously been owned and operated by the Faircloths. Linda Forney had a beauty shop north of the grocery before she began to work exclusively out of her home.
Turn right on Walnut. It’s still the same white building. This part of it became the bus terminal and associated café after the Paramount ceased to provide space for it. The Lockwood family managed the establishment. Across the street, facing Austin, is the yellow brick Ranger Post Office. Most likely it was built sometime during the Depression as its interior walls include a WPA-financed mural depicting work-related scenes. This location once was the site of the Ranger Livery, owned and operated by J. M. Rice. End Tour