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Aaron Johnson: Simply the best

How many businesses do you know of that have occupied the same location and provided the same service for over 80 years?

This week, Amberson’s Clothing store in Boaz was recognized for meeting that criterion. They opened in 1939 and are currently operated by the third generation, Phillip Amberson.

The massive oak roll top desk has not been moved since the first generation Amberson
moved it into the office back in 1939. The entire world has changed since then, but that desk remains the same.

Wayne Hunt, a local historian, told stories of the building and the family from years gone by. Wayne grew up on Main Street in Boaz. His father owned and operated Hunt & Wright hardware for many years. I don’t remember not knowing Wayne or Phillip. As I mature, those memories mean a little more that they did formerly.

The mayor, David Dyar, told the gathered crowd of walking into Amberson’s when he was 15 years old and asking for a charge account. Let that sink in a moment. A 15-year-old kid approached an established business and asked to charge clothes. Bill Amberson said, “Yes.”

The mayor then told of buying and paying for clothes “on time.” They didn’t need a credit report or a background check. Bill didn’t call a list of other creditors or ask for a cosigner. He just penned an item and price on a lined note pad. Each time a payment was made, the balance reduced; no interest. I know because I did it too.

Oh, how I miss the simplicity of life.

The quickest way to turn me off is to begin any conversation with, “Just log in …” For the past 30 years or so I have had someone who took care of the technology needs in my life. That left my techno IQ near zero. I don’t like passwords and neither do you. I used the name of my first dog for a password once.

Seems neither I nor anyone else knows the correct spelling of Maybell. Yeah, I named her and I was four. She ran away a couple of times and the local principal just loaded her up and brought her home.

Nothing is simple any more. Technology has tried to make things easier by allowing us to speak into the phone to a machine that will properly direct our call. I have yet to meet the machine that is programmed to understand southern American English. Sometimes I think I hear her prerecorded voice mocking me with a hint of a chuckle.

My roots run deep in the sandy soil of Sand Mountain. Sand Mountain isn’t a vacation Mecca and you won’t find a lot of glamour and glitz. What you will find is a culture of honesty and hard work; the kind that made our nation great.

Here in Southern small towns, you will find men and women who hold their work ethic as dear as their faith. Good people. Good values. And good lives.

In the midst of the celebration at Amberson’s, my life long friend turned to me and asked me to pray. Humbled and honored, I prayed.

We still do that kind of things around here. No technology, no glamor, just a hometown boy asking his Father for a blessing; in a simple kind of way.

Aaron Johnson is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News. He is pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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