Six decades and six generations

Photo by Shari Harris

Pittman’s Store in Success provides a variety of goods to area customers.

By Shari Harris, Publisher

On Sept. 5, 1960, Dwight and Shirley Pittman opened their business, Pittman’s Store, about four miles south of Success on Highway 17. In 1969, Dwight and Shirley purchased C.T. Smith’s Store in Success and combined the stores, moving Pittman’s Store into Success. Sixty years later, Pittman’s Store continues under Shirley Pittman’s management, providing Success and people passing through with gasoline, groceries, beer, tobacco products, hunting/fishing licenses, lottery and more. Things have changed in those sixty years – the delivery man charged $4.25 for a week’s supply of candy in 1960 compared to $600 now, and in a time when wages were $30 per week, they took in $75 on their first day open. Today, some people will spend $75 to refuel their pickup.

In 1980, they built the current structure, located at the junction of Hwy. 32 and Hwy. 17 in Success, on the north side of C.T. Smith’s rock building and had new fuel tanks installed. The business continues to thrive in that location.

Pittman’s Store has become a constant in the family, and the family has likewise been a constant part of the store. Dwight’s father, Elmer Pittman, worked at the store. Dwight and Shirley’s daughter, Terri McNew, has worked there for 46-years, starting right after her second child, son Tony McNew, was born. Terri’s brother, Lyman Pittman, primarily worked for Dwight and Shirley’s farming operation.

Lyman Pittman’s three daughters, Lacey, Holly and Demi, filled the coolers every night as teenagers. That job is now completed by Terri McNew’s granddaughter, Devyn Lea Foster, from daughter Cheri Foster. Two of Tony McNew’s sons also work at the store, Dwight, who helps out when he’s home from college and Connor, who is a frequent helper at the store. That’s five generations at Pittman’s Store.

Photo by Shari Harris

The rock building just south of Pittman’s Store has housed several businesses since 1935, including Pittman’s Store from 1969 to 1980.

Actually, owning or working at a store in Success began a generation before. C.T. and Ruth Smith were Dwight Pittman’s grandparents, thus they began the legacy. The rock building in which C.T. Smith’s Store was located was built by Smith in 1935.

How has Shirley Pittman kept a business going in a rural area, through sixty years of good and bad times? According to grandson Tony McNew, it was by hard work and dedication. Shirley’s husband, Dwight, passed away on May 1, 1990. Beginning the following day, with the exception of the day of his funeral, Shirley worked 8-14 hours per day for 12-1/2-years, seven days per week.

“My grandmother, she leads by example,” said Tony McNew. He recounted, in addition to her impressive work ethic, there were times when Shirley helped her neighbors, holding onto checks for a week or two if people were short of funds from expenses like buying school clothes for their children.

Dwight and Shirley Pittman knew what it was like to struggle. They started out with nothing, and gave $8,000 for 352 acres, 13 cows and 25 goats. They cleaned out the old house that had been used as a goat shed and moved into it. From this humble beginning came a successful store and large farming operation. In March of 1970, they purchased land in the largest land transaction in Texas County to that date. They amassed a 4500-acre farming operation in addition to their stores. In the 1970s through the early ‘80s, the Pittmans also owned Pit Stop service station and a package store across the highway from it, south of Houston.


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