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Kirk Remembers: First Memories of John Askew Paint Store

Note: The original name of our family business was John Askew Paint Store, founded Kirk’s grandfather John Askew. This interview is a bit older and was recorded while our business was still located at 110 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, NC. Here, Kirk recalls his first memories of our that building.


My first memories of the store are from sometime in 1945 or 1946. My grandfather, John Askew, had an office a couple of blocks from the store’s present location. He and another contractor shared the space. The building is still there. The entry door is in the corner of the building. I went there with my mother and grandmother. I remember my father and grandfather were there at the time. I think that there was a pot bellied stove in the building, some of the shelving that is in the back of the store now was moved from there I think. I should check with my cousin; he might remember. All of this would have been just before my grandfather moved the business.

My first memories of the present location would be from a few months later. The area was still a neighborhood, and the house, which is the core of the current building, had tenants renting rooms. These people did not want to move and my grandfather didn’t want to kick them out. This was just after the Depression, and he had gone through some tough times too. As a result, he operated the business out of the basement for a period of time while offering the residents the services of a driver and the business pickup truck.

The building additions that you see today were not here then. The outside door to the building at that time is now inside the building. It is the access door to the upstairs now. The painted street number is still on the transom over the door. My grandfather had had a small wooden platform type porch built for that door. This was for an old man who lived here at the time. He liked to sit on the porch and whittle.

We had come to the new location because a parade was being held that day. My father asked one of the neighbors about the parade route. He said that the parade was to come down Glenwood right by our place. The old man, for whom the porch was built, was sitting on a chair whittling wooden flowers. It was a cool but sunny day. People began to line the streets waiting for the event. Everyone had coats or jackets on. There were several people on the porch, including the old man’s daughter. As the parade began to reach our location, there were enough people in front of us so that a four-year-old couldn’t see very well. My parents asked if they could set me on the porch so that I could see. The old man said that would be OK. I think the parade was celebrating the end of WWII and consisted mainly of soldiers and of course bands marching by. When the parade was over the old man gave me one of the carnations that he had carved.

The next clear memories that I have are from later when the front addition that became the show room was being built. That may have been around 1947 or 1948. We attended Hillyer Memorial Christian Church. I had gone with my grandfather to church that Sunday, and he decided to come to the store to see how the construction was going.