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Harold Blair beside the patch machine.

Harold Blair beside the patch machine.

Originally published in the Hamilton-Herald News 19 March 2009.

Harold Blair has reopened his boot and shoe repair shop.

Harold Blair is back in business. At 90s something, he has reopened Blair’s Boot and Shoe Repair.

Blair purchased Crain’s Shoe Repair in the mid- 1980s. The business was originally operated by Robert

Verne Crain, who opened in January 1954. Crain was the father of E. C. Weathers of Hamilton, who provided a history of her father’s shop.

By January 1954, Robert Verne Crain was ready to launch out on his own in the shoe, saddle and combine canvas repair business, she wrote. “Within a 24-hour period, Mother, Daddy and I drove to Celina, purchased a shoe repair shop, loaded it on Bill Stephens’ truck and returned to Hamilton.

Crain’s Western Shop opened at 205 N. Bell, which in 1954 was the north end of the building now occupied by Floral Designs by Jill. Within a few years, the front part of that building became available, and Verne, with the help of his older brother, Edwin, rolled the shoe repair equipment on iron pipes up the street to 123 E. Henry St., which was its location when the city flooded on April 26, 1957.

On that day, Pecan Creek went on a rampage, causing an estimated half-million dollars in damage to the city’s business district. The square was submerged in water, and many stores on the north and east sides of the square had serious damage. The City Drug building had three feet of water inside when its back door disintegrated. Several cars from Paul Gilliam’s Used Car lot on North Rice were washed away. Gerald’s Feed Store, which had folding doors across the front and back, flooded throughout, damaging almost all of their inventory.

Next door was the shoe repair shop. “I was a senior at Mary Hardin-Baylor College in BeltonÂ… we spent the evening in the darkened first floor parlor of our dorm”, Weathers wrote. “Occasionally when electricity came on, we heard about floods throughout Central Texas.” Weathers said she wasn’t concerned when news was broadcast about floods in Hamilton, because she was sure that her parents were either at their farm at Blue Ridge or at the home on West Grogan Street. But they were not. They rode out the storm from their shop.

“I will never know why Daddy had sandbags in his shop, but he did,” Weathers wrote. The Crains sandbagged the front door, which was slanted across the southeast corner of the building, reducing the force of the water and preventing their building from being flooded.

Mrs. Jewel Workman Hughes Parrish purchased the building in 1958, and the Crains moved their shop across the street to 210 N. Bell, a building that had only a dirt floor, and later to 206 N. Bell, its final location.

Illness caused Verne to close the store in 1974, but Ray Weathers, Elreeta’s husband, reopened in 1975 and operated the business for 10 more years. He sold all of the shoe repair equipment, supplies and furniture to Blair in 1986.

Blair will be open 9 a.m. to noon and 2-6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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It is my conclusion that the Atkinson Hotel was originally called the Misener Commercial Hotel, because:

  1. Chester Clay Atkinson died in December, 1956. According to his obituary from a Hamilton newspaper, the Atkinsons sold their hotel to First Baptist Church in August, 1955.
  2. The obituary says that the Atkinsons bought the “Hamilton Hotel” in 1925. The 1934 article said that they “built up an attractive and superior small hotel patronage” rather than saying that they erected the building in which the hotel was located.
  3. Edwin Ruthvin Misener moved to Dallas in 1922.
  4. When Edwin Ruthvin and Sarah E. Misener celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 1911–they lived on South Bell
  5. The shape of the roof, location of chimneys, second-floor railings, and 2nd floor windows and door are too similar for it not to be the same building.
    The Atkinson Hotel after it had been purchased by First Baptist Church in 1955.

    The Atkinson Hotel after it had been purchased by First Baptist Church in 1955.

    The Misener Commercial Hotel c. 1900-1922

    The Misener Commercial Hotel c. 1900-1922.

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