Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1917 Yearbook

1917 Yearbook


1917 Yearbook


bright red and yellow to "dazzle the rubes."
Smithville thought Jim Halloway crazy but
looked on with interest.
A few days later two tinmobiles, the first
business cars that ever invaded Smithville,
were unloaded at the village station.
They bore on their radiators the coat of
arms of "Sir Henry of Detroit" and had
painted on their sides in glowing letters:
A few days later the following poster was
scattered about the village and the neighboring territory.
James Halloway, retailer, will deliver groceries and other supplies to anyone within
25 miles of Smithville. Delivery by auto.
No extra charge. Mail or phone your orders, ftj
Smith County was rocked to the bottom.
For Centuries, it seemed, Bijah Jebens' old
blind plug had brought the groceries to
those in and about Smithville, while the
farmers "outside the Pale" had driven to
town whenever they needed supplies.
Like ducks to water the farmers took to
the new idea. Orders began to roll into the
new establishment and soon Bije Jebens'
customers became as scarce as Republicans
in Mississippi.
Ordinarily in such cases the metropolis
leads the way and the provincial districts
follow, but in this case Smithville, the metropolis of Smith Co., held out until the last.
Finally the suburban inhabitants began to
have their goods delivered in the nifty red
Fords. At last even the Lutheran minister
favored Jim with an order, and Bije Jebens
was one of the pillars of the Luthern church
in Smithville. Things were at this point
when Violet Jebens, Bije's 19-year-old
daughter, arrived from Vassar.
She was of a full build but not stout, and
had black eyes that would have excited
Satan to sorrow. She had learned many
things about science in business, and was
ready to help her father rebuild his trade.
There was soon a business bristle about
the old Jebens store such as it had not seen
in the forty years of its existence.
The volunteer hot air department had
been routed and forced to seek shelter in the
only remaining strongholt of the mossbacks,
the post office. The counters had been
moved about, the stock rearranged, and at
last the store looked like a salesroom, rather
than a club room.
A few days before this Violet and her
father had held a long consultation.
"Father", she had said, "we must make
some radical changes. Your whole system
is wrong. We must get all those loafers out
of the store and turn over a new leaf, or
those horrid people across the street will
run us out of business."
"But, Violet, I can't turn my old friends
out. It wouldn't seem like the old store.
Besides, I've made my pile. May as well let
the young fellow have his chance, he seems
like a rather decent sort of chap."
The girl's eyes flashed. "Yes, Daddy, but
we can't lay down and let them run us out
of business. You must show them you are
still alive. We must at least regain enough
strength to force them to buy at a good
As is usually the end in such cases, the
girl had her way and modern business
methods were introduced at Jebens.
A great counter-advertising campaign
was begun in which the impossibility of
maintaining a costly delivery service without making the consumer pay for the goods
was hammered in the Smith Co. minds. The
people soon became interested in the battle
and characterized it "Vassar vs. Yale". It
was no tame battle, this struggle for the
business supremacy of a county, and although Yale had almost undisputed mastery
at the beginning of the battle Vassar began
to gain ground little by little.
Meanwhile Yale was becoming a little enamoured of Vassar, but owing to the rivalry
between the parties concerned, there were
no open advances. The thoughts of a certain young man, however, began to run more
and more on a pair of black eyes.
At last Yale became a little bolder. He
was allowed to call one night, and gradually
the call became a weekly event. Eventually
it became a little more frequent than this
and finally settled as a semi-weekly one.
Thus the battle went on during the daytime in one line and was carried on into the
night in another way.
In the business battle Violet was slowly
gaining ground, until at last Halloway advanced with an offer to buy. It was too
small to be considered, however, and was
scornfully rejected.
A few mornings later when Violet was
opening the morning mail she jumped up
and cried:—
"Well, dear?"
"Listen to the letter from Hotchkiss and
Hotchkiss & Somers,
New York City,
May 17, 1917.
Bijah Jebens,
Smithville, N. Y.
Dear Sir:
We are at present trying to dispose of
500,000 lbs. of sugar at l%<i per pound. We
sell but one store in each town and can serve
but out of town customers. Are selling at
this low price because we need ready cash
and arc unable to get credit in the city.
Wire if you want any, and act quick as the
quantity is nothing to the demand. Answer
by telegram.
Yours truly,
Hotchkiss & Somers.
In almost an instant the maid's hand was
en the newly installed telephone and she was
calling the telegraph operator at Gontleroy.
She hurried this telegram:
Hotchkiss & Somers,
New York City.
Send 10,000 lbs. at once.
Bijah Jebens,
Smithville, N. Y.