|Birth: ||Nov. 15, 1890|
|Death: ||Oct. 19, 1968|
Mr. D.C. Clayton was a successful businessman in Alvarado for over 50 years. He became a prominent citizen in the city with his business success after becoming totally blind at the age of 26 years old. He did this by overcoming or ignoring his handicap.
Daniel Cortez Clayton was born in Stubblefield, Texas – a rural community southwest of Alvarado, on November 5, 1890. He died in Alvarado on October 19, 1968. His father, Daniel A. Clayton, was a farmer. His mother was Lou Ella Iona Harris Clayton. About 1891 Mr Clayton sold his farm and moved his family to the College Hill area of Alvarado, on November 5. 1890. he died in Alvarado on October 19. 1968 at the age of 77 years. He was the 5th child in a family of seven children.
His father, Daniel A. Clayton, was a farmer. His mother was Lou Ella Ione Harris Clayton. In about 1890 Mr. Clayton sold his farm and moved his family to the College Hill area of Alvarado. He then went into the grocery store business with a friend. After they moved to town, they had two more children. Daniel A. Clayton died in 1897. His wife lived in their home until she died in 1963 at the age of 97 years.
My mother, Ethel Clayton, was the 2nd child in the family. She did not remember how her brother got the name "Ned". That is just what they called him. It stuck with him all his life. She told me that as a child he had a sickness with a high fever that affected his vision. After this, he had poor eyesight. Probably, because of this, he played by himself a lot. However, he was interested in the family activities and took part in them. He was a poor student in school. I do not know how much schooling he had. Mother told me no one ever teased or kidded him about his poor eyesight.
In 1930 he went to school in Austin, Texas at the Texas State School for the Blind. In this school he learned to read and write in braille. He, also learned communication skills for his personal life and business activities. While there he taught a Sunday School class known as the "Gleaners". At school he made many friends, including his future wife. He returned to the school many times for reunions and other get to-gathers.
His health, other than eyes, was good most of his life. In later years, he had circulation problems that led to the loss of one leg. He was probably about 70 years old then. Ned lived with his mother on College Hill until he married Patricia Randle on May 5, 1936.
Patricia Randle, of Dallas, was a classmate of Ned's. They were married in her parents' home. I was his best man at the wedding. They lived in a home they they helped plan and build in Alvarado. She was an accomplished pianist and musician. She had written and published several songs. Pot lost her eyesight in an automobile accident in 1928. Both Ned and Pat were active among people in the blind community and were well known in these areas in Texas and the US. Patricia died in Alvarado on October 10, 1961.
Ned probably had some jobs during his early years. I have little information about those years. I heard of one job he had at the local Ice Plant that made and sold blocks of ice – everyone had iceboxes in those days. He must have worked as a handy man. When the Iceman went on his daily route to deliver ice, Ned stayed and looked after the plant. He sold blocks of ice the man had cut into different sizes – ice sold by the pound. Ned often sold all that had been ahead of time and it tickled him to have done so well while the owner was on his route. Ned also worked for some time as a yard clerk for the Katy Railroad (Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company) in Denison, Texas until he became totally blind.
Ned was a happy person. He enjoyed being with other people, having conversations and discussions with them. Telling jokes was something he enjoyed doing. His outlook on life was good, always positive. He was a Christian, a lifetime member of the Alvarado Baptist Church in which he served as a Sunday School teacher, Superintendent of the Sunday School and was on the Board of Deacons. In other local activities, he was a member of the Lions Club (a past president) and was a director and a vice-president of the Alvarado Citizens State Bank. He was a benevolent person who gave to the poor and supported the local charities. Ned enjoyed going to the movies. He attended several of the Dallas Summer Musicals and afterwords would describe the music and story to friends as if he had actually seen it. He listened to music and news on the radio. He also had several phonograph records of the Bible that he used to prepare Sunday School lessons. He had the entire Bible written in braille. He played the domino game "Forty-two" enthusiastically. His domino's were braille-type with raised dots.
Ned Clayton was my uncle but for some reason I always called him Ned rather than Uncle Ned. The first thing I can remember about him was he had his popcorn machine on the sidewalk on the east side of the Alvarado Square selling popcorn and candy. Then his first store which was a portable building was located at the southwest side of the square on a vacant lot near the Bulletin building. This portable building was mounted on skids so it could be moved easily. It was 8 ft. x 12 ft. and had windows that would slide open for him to serve his customers popcorn, gum, candy and tobacco. My dad and a carpenter, Sam Thompson, built his building in the Farmers and Merchants Lumber Company yard. This business was on the corner where the U. S. Post Office was located in 1994. (today Kiddie Korral).
Saturday was his day at our house. Ned always had lunch with us. We lived 4 blocks from the Alvarado square. He came there alone each Saturday. He was always on time. When lunch was over, he returned to his business by himself. He had a braille pocket watch he used to tell time.
In about 1923, Ned bought a Variety Store on the east side of the square. (this was the Kiblinger Racket Store) The owner of the this store jokingly told Ned one day that he would sell him his store if he had the money or to any one else who had the money because he was getting old and could no longer take care of the business. Well, Ned got enough money from his savings plus some borrowed from a bank and bought the store. He ran this store at this location for several years and prospered. He bought another store of this type in Killeen, Texas. This store was not profitable and he closed it. The Alvarado business continued to make money. In about 1933, he bought a two story building with an adjoining warehouse and moved his business into the newly acquired building after completely renovating it. This building was next to Tobolowsky Dry Goods and Clothing Store on the north side of the square.
The following was taken from the Alvarado Bulletin July 17, 1953 ---
The newly redecorated, restyled D. C. Clayton Variety Store will have the formal opening, July 16. Mr. Clayton has become a member of the Ben Franklin associated stores and will be able to offer a greater line of goods in more attractive surroundings.
Older citizens of the community will recall that "Ned" Clayton started his business in Alvarado with a "pop corn" stand just below the southwest corner of the square. It was there that "Ned" endeared himself to the children of the community and became a familiar figure about the town.
Needless to say, Mr. Clayton has prospered thru all these many years, and since he established the variety store on the north side of the square, he has served thousands of customers to their complete satisfaction.
Down thru the years, it has become the custom to shop not only for small merchandise of the variety type, but lovely gifts for all occasions have been available at the Clayton Store. There's a motto in Alvarado, "Go to Ned's for it," and there it will be found.
The many friends and newly arrived residents of Alvarado are all invited to come to the formal opening of the new store in the same location on the north side. Efficient, pleasant clerks will be on hand to serve you, and Mr. Clayton will be most happy to meet you, and greet you, in case of old friends or new arrivals to Alvarado.
Each merchandise item had a price tag attached that had the price written in braille and in ink. The braille, of course, was for his use. When he waited on a customer, he was so efficient they often did not know he was blind. He was quick and error less in making change, except he did have to ask for the value of paper money.
He attended to his business at the bank, post office, drug store, grocery store, and all of his insurance needs. He typed his own letters and kept the store inventory in braille records. He went to the bank alone as well as other businesses on the square. He walked with the help of a white walking cane. He knew the combination to the lock on his mail box in the post office and opened it himself by feeling the dial with his fingers. He knew many friends, business acquaintances and relatives by their voices. It was remarkable and surprising to everyone how he could recognize people when they spoke to him – even though it had been a long time since they had seen him. He a staff of clerks and helpers to care of customers and other duties. He knew where things were and boxes of merchandise were stored in the warehouse. He was known to find things in the warehouse when his employees could not.
Otto McLeroy said that D.C. "Ned" Clayton had this philosophy about life:
"It was a pretty hard jolt when my eyes went bad on me. But I decided to do the best with what I had left. I think that every person has problems to face in one way or another. That is, what to do when something he has been counting on slips away from him. The important thing, as I see it is to make the best of what you have and not weep over what you haven't."
The following is a biography of Ned Clayton written by his nephew J. Otto McLeroy, Jr. in 1994.
Plot: Block 22, Row 12
Created by: Beverly Mahanay~Short...
Record added: May 09, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 110279511
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8|
Added: Jul. 22, 2013