Monday, March 7, 2011

Mack's Popcorn Stand

I've noticed something interesting in my collection of photographs. First on Water Street, between the site of the old hospital and Schreiner's, and then later on Earl Garrett, across from the courthouse. I see a sign for an unusual business: "Mack's Popcorn Stand."
I decided to investigate, and found the following information in the "Kerr County Album," published by the Kerr County Historical Commission in 1986.
"Lloyd C. McCoun, Sr., and his wife Jim, and their three children LaVerne, Mary, and Lloyd, Jr., moved to Kerrville in 1932 from Shreveport, Louisiana where Mr. McCoun had been a tile and marble contractor."
He came here to do the same work (actually doing the tile work at the Butt family's homes on Earl Garrett, now the offices of the H. E. Butt Foundation, and also at the Blue Bonnet Hotel), but found, during the Great Depression, work in his field was hard to find.
"At that time, everyone had a nickel, but not a dollar," so McCoun decided to go into the small cash goods business, selling popcorn, and roasted peanuts.
"Mr. Mack, as everyone started calling him, put up his first popcorn and peanut stand on Water Street next to the old J. C. Penney store. At that time the St. Charles Hotel was still standing and took up the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets. Later he enclosed the popcorn stand and added soft drinks, marble machines, candy, magazines, newspapers, ice cream, and, on special occasions, fireworks. The American Pure Milk Company, which was owned and operated by Carl and Jack Peterson, furnished the ice cream and they were quoted as saying Mr. Mack put them in the ice cream business as he sold all flavors by the cone, pint, and quart.
"Mack's Popcorn Stand was a place to go visit old friends and he welcomed each and every one. The Arcadia Theater did not sell refreshments, so Mr. Mack would pop fresh corn as the children would line up to go into the movie. Needless to say he sold out.
"Mr. Mack said he popped enough corn to bury a city block, and many a bag of popcorn or peanuts would find its way onto an office desk."
He was enterprising: he also had a trailer which he took to fairs and public events.
I'm not sure why I find this story so charming.
Perhaps it's because it represents a simpler time, when a family could support themselves selling popcorn and snacks to children, office workers, and movie-goers. It was a forgotten time when movies didn't have concession stands, but relied upon ticket sales alone, even though they only showed one movie per week, and the movie was several weeks or months old.
Several folks I know remember the old popcorn stand and Mr. McCoun. Like the Cascade Pool, the Rialto Theater and other long-gone businesses which focused on young people, many Kerrville folks have very fond memories of Mack's Popcorn Stand. It was a part of their childhood, a golden memory of times gone by.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who prefers peanuts to popcorn, but would have been a steady customer of Mack's. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times, March 5, 2011.


  1. I am glad you wrote this story. I have such vague remembrances of his narrow little shop across from the courthouse on Earl Garrett. Would love to see a picture of it again to see if it's as I remember it from childhood...Bonnie

  2. I remember Mack's very well. It was a great and fun place for children and adults.

    A great deal of conversation took place just outside the front door of Mack's.

  3. Mack's Store, Mr. Mack, Penney's, American Pure Milk Company, the Cascade Pool, the Rialto Theater, I remember them all.

    Joe, you are correct when you said "a golden memory of times gone by."

    I miss those days.

    During that era, people knew who they were and life had clarity.

  4. Joe, as usual, I loved reading this and I agree with you, it is a charming story. My father remembers this popcorn stand very well. It just represents a much simpler time. Oh, and I am LOVING my book, personally autographed by you, Mr. Joe Herring, Jr.!!!! You are a gift!!

  5. Julie: I am glad you like your book!


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