George  Small


The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday October 6, 1947
Page 6 column 2
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GEORGE SMALL
(Picture)
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            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 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.  But 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,"  George says.  "My wife amazed everyone by canning 1,017 quarts of food one year.  It 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 30.  Despite 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 sickness is."
            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 themselves."
            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 1919.
            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.  At 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;  George 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 grandchildren!
            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

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