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Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015

Gray Matters: Small town connections

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My recent story concerning the management changes at Sand Seed Service evoked some memories which I would like to tell you about. The Sand and Dorr names share several connections.

John Sand opened his small seed store on Main Street in 1934, just a year before my late husband, Melvin Dorr, started the Dorr Hatchery a few doors away in 1935. Melvin and his brother, Harold, moved a country elevator from near Archer, Iowa, into Marcus where it became the nucleus of the Dorr Feed Mill in 1942. Four years later, the Sand Seed Service was established at its present location.

These enterprises progressed in tandem until the early 1960's when a serious heart condition necessitated Harold Dorr's semi-retirement. With Melvin having to take on the added responsibilities of the considerable farming operations, it was decided to sell the Feed Mill. The logical buyer was Sand's.

So, you see, that facility at the north end of Main Street belonged first to Dorr's and then to Sand's before it became what is now known as the Livestock Production Center. Isn't it interesting to see how things have evolved and intertwined over the years?

Then I do want to relate an even more poignant connection. I made mention in the earlier column of the devastating fire which struck Sand's on April 6, 1984. This was during the years my husband, Melvin, and I were wintering in the Texas Hill Country, and I suspect it was one of the first years that Merle and Edith Sand had taken an extended winter vacation.

They had visited friends and relatives in Arizona and were planning to stop to see us, enroute home. Aware of this, their family decided it would be far better for them to be with friends when they received the tragic news than to be totally alone in a strange motel.

So they called us and enlisted our aid. After we had welcomed them and had all settled down with a comfortable cup of coffee, my spouse plunged into the story of what had taken place. It took some minutes for them to adjust to the shock of the tragic event and to assure Edie that all her children were okay.

In time, we helped them on to our two phones to talk with their son, Chuck. Their first reaction, of course, was to head home immediately. He was able to convince them to stay with us for a few days as there was really nothing they could do at home at that point.

In spite of their deep concerns, we had a good visit, and I know it gave us an opportunity to show them some of our favorite Hill Country haunts.

I suspect city folks can relate similar stories of friendships made and connections maintained. But, knowing how prejudiced I am to small rural communities, I am sure you are already aware of my views on such matters. Thank you for indulging me!