I have been writing some about my journey through life. This part has been very interesting to look back on and see how enjoyable it was.
I had a business in Varina in the late ‘40s and ‘50s, selling men’s and boys’ clothing and shoes. I hadn’t thought about making any changes, or selling my store, but one day my good friend, P.K. Honeycutt, came in to see me. We talked for a while; then he asked me if I would be interested in making a change in the business. I didn’t say anything at first; then I said I guessed it would depend on what and who it was and how the pay was. Then he told me there was a business in Fuquay that was planning to expand, with plans to hire someone to manage the shoe department. Then he said it was the R.S. Ashworth store.
I knew when Mr. Ashworth opened the store, and I knew he was highly respected and well-liked by everyone. His reputation was A plus. W.D. “Skinny” Ashworth was in the business with his father, and I had known him about all my life.
I told P.K. I would think about it. Then he asked if W.D. could come and talk with me, and I told him yes. W.D. came and we talked. He told me all about the plans and what they had in mind, and it sounded so good I said yes. He talked to Mr. R.S., and we got together and made a deal. I sold my store and went to work for the R.S. Ashworth store.
I do know they were one of the nicest families I have ever known. They were nice to everyone, and I was treated like one of the family. Mr. Ashworth treated me like one of his children. I never heard him raise his voice at anyone, and everybody respected him. If someone bought something at the store and was not satisfied with it and he found out about it, he would see to it that they would be satisfied.
One day a man came in the store with a pair of shoes that were defective and wanted a new pair. I told him they were not our shoes, and he countered that he had. I would not replace them because I knew we didn’t sell them, so he went to Mr. Ashworth and demanded a new pair. Mr. R.S. came to me and asked if they were ours. I said no; we had never sold that brand of shoe. The man was not satisfied, and Mr. Ashworth told him to pick out another pair, and he did and left. About 30 minutes later, the man came back with the shoes and apologized and said he had learned he bought them in another store. Mr. Ashworth smiled and said he knew that, but didn’t want him to leave the store dissatisfied. He was just this kind of man. He would rather give the man the shoes than have him leave unhappy.
He always looked on the positive side, was not a complainer or a whiner. He loved a good, clean joke but would not listen to a shady one. He was such a good salesman he could sell the horns off a billy goat, and it would be all right with the billy goat. He just had the magic touch in selling. He would say, don’t talk about something you don’t have. Sell what you have; nobody is going to buy what you don’t have.
I enjoyed working there all those years. We had very pleasant working conditions, and everyone got along together so well. I made friends with so many good people.
Mr. Ashworth used to tell me not to make the mistake he made and wait too long to retire. He said he waited until he was not able to go and do the things he wanted to do. I thought a lot about what he said, and retired young.
I am an old man now, and so glad I took his advice. I have enjoyed my long retirement.
Warren H. Lee, 91 years old