Texas Ingenuity History


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Lake Austin Spa Resort (Austin; 1705 S. Quinlan Park Rd.; tel. 800/847-5637)

Cibolo Creek Ranch (Shafter; tel. 432/229-3737)

Gage Hotel (Marathon; tel. 432/386-4205)

Historic - The Excelsior House (Jefferson; 903/665-2513 or 800/490-7270)






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7 - Eleven Creates a Convenient Business

Back in the olden days, around 1927, few people had that new-fangled appliance called a refrigerator (first introduced in 1913). Instead, most people had something called an icebox – an insulated wooden box with a compartment on top where you placed a block of ice. As the ice melted the cold water dripped down and kept a bottom compartment fairly cool. And in the hot Texas summers, it took a lot of blocks of ice to keep the milk and eggs fresh.

In those years you went to an “Ice House” to get your blocks of ice, or had it delivered to your door, and icehouses dotted the street corners in almost every neighborhood. One particular icehouse, Johnny Green’s, sat on the corner of Edgefield Avenue and Twelfth Street in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas.

John Jefferson Green, the man who owned this icehouse, had an idea about how he could make more money. Instead of just selling ice, “Uncle Johnny” reasoned that he might collect a little more pocket change if he sold a few other things. At that time, a block of ice sold for a whopping 11 cents. It made sense to him to begin stocking a few grocery items. Remember (if you’re that old) that at this time there were no supermarkets. Groceries were purchased at small neighborhood “Mom-and-Pop” stores, and these stores often closed early in the evening and on weekends. What if Cousin Sally had a birthday party coming up and you needed to make your special triple-layer butter cake that night and were out of milk and eggs? Sorry. No can do. That’s where Uncle Johnny’s idea caught on. He stayed open late – a full sixteen hours a day, and on weekends. People soon learned that even after the Mom-and-Pop’s stores were closed, you could still get a few groceries at the icehouse on Edgefield. Johnny sold quarts of milk for 7 cents, a pound of cheese for 24 cents, and a loaf of bread for 9 cents.

Continues. . .

Original 7-Eleven

Original 7-Eleven store originally known as Johnny Green’s Ice House

and a Tote’m Store in Dallas circa 1927.

It wasn’t long before the Southland Ice Company realized that Johnny had a good idea. They bought the idea and opened similar stores all over town. The expanded icehouses were called Tote’m stores since customers ‘toted’ their purchases home. Some stores featured an Indian Totem pole out front to keep with the theme. Although the icehouse part of the business became less and less necessary as refrigerators become more abundant, the convenience part grew even more popular.

Continues in the book . . .

Texas Tidbit: 7-Eleven has more sales of these items than any other retailer in the world: USA Today newspapers, Sports Illustrated magazines, cold beer, cold single-serve bottled water, cold Gatorade, fresh-grilled hot dogs, single-serve chips and money orders. They also have the largest ATM network of any retailer in the United States.

The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...