Most folks who had worked steady and hard for well over half a century and
had reared 13 children, would be fully prepared to "call it quits" and
retire to a more leisurely type of life. But not George Small.
The Shelbyville Republican
Monday October 6, 1947
Page 6 column 2
The widely known Shelbyville interior decorator still keeps busy every day
hanging wallpaper and performing related interior decoration work. In fact, in
order to interview him for this "personality" piece, the newspaper
reporter given the task was obliged to drive several miles to find George - on the
job - just as he has been for some 55 years.
George Small is not a bragging sort by any measure, but one feels the natural
pride of the man when his children are mentioned. And he has every right to be
proud. He is the father of 13 children - 12 of them living. A daughter, Norma,
died during the tragic influenza epidemic in 1919. She was just 16 years old.
And the mother of this wonderful family of eight sons and five daughters died
February 13, 1943, but not before she had been honored by Shelbyville
educational leaders at the high school graduation of her youngest child, Lothair.
George doesnít particularly like to talk about the rearing of his big
family in terms of vast amount of money involved in such a tremendous
undertaking. George says you just donít think of children in such terms.
he did mention, with a little smile, that he once paid $117 for school books at
the beginning of a semester when 10 of his brood were enrolled at the same time.
With such a family, he admits things were "pretty tough" during the
depression years. But he quickly adds that he kept them all well fed without any
kind of "outside help."
"We rented three acres of ground and put it all in garden,"
says. "My wife amazed everyone by canning 1,017 quarts of food one year.
all came from our garden and a few fruit trees at home."
George was born in Shelbyville and will be 72 years old on October
the fact that he has led an extremely active life, he just doesnít "have
any idea of quitting. Iím on the job every day, and I donít know what
After attending school, he became associated in business with his father
while still in his teens. He helped operate a combination confectionary store
and interior decoration business with his father and in July of 1896, when he
was 20 years old, he was married to Miss Mary Fagle. He started "on
his own" as a wallpaper hanger and interior decorator in 1907. He has done
steady contracting work of this kind up to the present, and even found time to
serve eight years on the city council-from 1916 to 1924.
In the "old days," he says, there was only enough of this kind of
work to keep a man really busy for about three months out of the year. That was
back at the time when he still was in business with his father. For one thing,
he explains, there werenít nearly so many houses to provide decoration work.
In addition, he points out that "people donít keep their places up as
well as they do now, and besides that, they did much of the work
With a rapidly growing family, George sought additional means to supplement
the family income after beginning his own business in 1907. After working a full
day every day at his regular profession, he operated a popcorn machine in the
evening and also had the agency for the Indianapolis News and some Chicago
newspapers. He kept these activities going until the death of his daughter in
Hearing about popcorn machine business from George is almost like taking a
step into the past. He first located his little "extra money"
enterprise in front of the old Schroeder and Hoop drug store, at the corner now
occupied by Worlandís drug store. At that time, the cityís first movie
theater was located just a few feet away from his stand-on the north side of
East Broadway a short distance east of Harrison Street. Later he moved the stand
to the corner of the Public Square now occupied by the Western Auto Store.
that time, however, The Farmers National Bank was in that location. He operated
his popcorn machine there until the Alhambra theater was built, and then moved
to the latter location.
Merely remembering the names of 12 children might be a task for a lot of
parents, but George reels off the names. Together with their place of residence,
with great speed. They are, he will tell you, August, of Shelbyville;
M., who formerly was Shelby high school music director and now is director
of music at New Castle high school; Edward, of Waldron; Robert,
Dayton, Ohio; Herbert, this city; Mrs. Dorotha Robbins, Greensburg;
Russell, of Seymour; Mrs. Mary Brown and Ermel of Shelbyville;
Mrs. Evelyn Page, Bretton Wood, New Jersey; Mrs. Henrietta Bennett,
of this city, and Lothair, of Muncie.
But thatís not all; he also has 21 grandchildren and three great
He quit his own contracting work two years ago, and now is in business with
his son, August, and a grandson, Jack. They operate the Small and Small
establishment on East Washington Street.
George Small, is of course, a lover of home.
After a full day of work, he
likes to read for relaxation. He prefers books. The secret of a happy and
successful life, he believes, is "patience." "I love my work and
take pride in it. I get along with folks."
Contributed by Barb Huff