The Norman Transcript

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December 17, 2012

Demolition of Rhodes granary marks changing Norman landscape

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Bob Goins and his friends would walk the railroad track near the granary. Local kids attended Woodrow Wilson Elementary.

“I was born at the corner of Main and Cockrel,” Roy Hamilton said. “In 1936, we moved to the corner of Jones and Johnson and I attended Wilson Grade School.”

He said Woodrow Wilson Elementary school was built in 1930.

“We would play around the granary, and we got in there at night a couple of times, just like we did the old cotton gin,” Hamilton said.

Much of the area east of the railroad tracks is still as it was back in the ’30s, Hamilton said, despite all of the change and growth in Norman.

“We’ve seen a lot happen in 80-some years,” Brockhaus said. “I can remember when a lot of the streets were dirt and gravel in Norman. Robinson was a mud street when I was a kid. In fact, I’ve been stuck on it.”

Richard McDonald was Cecil Rhodes’ son-in-law and worked for Rhodes Grain Company for 40 years. McDonald said the grain business was hard work. He remembers sewing up bags full of grain and throwing them on pallets.

“It was a small company, and whoever worked there had to do everything,” McDonald said. “We manufactured dairy feeds until maybe the late ’80s, early ’90s, when most of the dairies when out of business.”

He said the family dairies required someone to be there to milk twice a day, seven days a week. Farming was a family affair, with kids growing up around the farm helping out. But later generations of kids moved away, not wanting to continue the demanding life of a dairy farmer. Many of those small family dairies liquidated and went out of business.

“They didn’t go broke as much as they just didn’t have people to replace the old folks,” said Ray Doussett, longtime Rhodes employee. “It was so rough, the boys didn’t come home. It all but quit there at the last; the dairies had dwindled plumb out.”

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