Short’s Corner: “Looking Back”

In the days before the widespread use of the automobile, Conway had a number of neighborhood groceries that were within walking distance of most homes. Numerous children were sent by parents with a handful of money and a shopping list to gather up a few things. Still others, with allowance in hand, made their way down the street for a coke or some candy.

Even after automobiles became more common and Kroger, Safeway, the Mad Butcher and Simon’s became weekly grocery destinations, many still depended on these “corner stores” to pick up things that they needed during the week. It was easy to run by on the way home from work to grab that missing item for dinner or pick up an extra loaf of bread.

Our most frequent stop in the late 1960s and early 1970s was at Short’s Corner on the southeast corner of Donaghey and Bruce. The store, which had a little bit of everything, was a very busy place as it was right next to the SCA campus. It was owned by Gilbert Short and Darrell and Era “Jerrie” Graddy ran the store in the 1960s and lived upstairs.

Short’s Corner became a fixture on the southeast corner of Donaghey and Bruce around 1961. Gilbert Short was born in 1886 in Middlebrook, Arkansas, located north of Pocahontas. His wife, Gertrude, was born in 1891 in Elsie, Nebraska. She passed away in 1977 but he lived to be 100 before he passed in 1986.

Short had been a student at Arkansas Normal School, getting his Licentiate of Instruction in 1912. He came back to the college in 1916 as a faculty member before becoming assistant registrar and then registrar of the college until his retirement from UCA in 1953. Short Hall, built in 1960, was named after him.

This store had been a corner store for decades and had been owned by several different people. In 1924, it was called Hamil’s Corner but in 1925, it was called Mac’s Place and was a meeting and eating place for the students at Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC). By the 1930s, it was called Terry’s Corner.

In the 1940s, Conway had a bus service called InterCity that picked up at this store and took passengers downtown. It made a circle around town picking up and dropping off riders. In the 1950s, the bus company added a route to pick up and drop off at the International Shoe Factory on Hairston Street.

Eugene Hankins, Superintendent of Mayflower Schools bought the store in January 1946 for $20,000 from the Stobaughs who were moving to Morrilton. Hankins resigned his school position at the end of the spring term to run Hankins Corner.

About 18 months later, Mr. and Mrs. M.E. Newbern, Jr. purchased the store and renamed it the College Book Store. Mr. Newbern had operated the ASTC book store on campus until his contract expired. Mrs. Newbern had recently resigned as dean of women at ASTC.

The Newberns extensively remodeled the store and living space on the 2nd floor. Florescent lighting was added to the store as well as modern booths and an up-to-date soda fountain and sandwich bar. The upstairs was converted to a modern apartment with two bedrooms with private baths.

Short’s Corner became a John Miller Food Mart in the 1980s and then a Pizza Pro in the early 1990s. When Scott Stevens sold out his Pizza Pro locations, the location eventually became a Papa John’s Pizza. Papa John’s moved to the other side of UCA’s campus on Farris when the building was finally demolished in 2015 to make way for Donaghey Hall.

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

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