EDMOND — Morris “Hoot” Gibson, founder of McCall's menswear store in Edmond, has had a pretty impressive run in these past 60 years.
In 1953, Gibson had faith that Edmond, at the time a community of 6,000 residents, would one day be a thriving economic force. Six decades and some 77,000 more people later, he knows he was right.
He also has been a driving force in the promotion of commerce and business in downtown Edmond.
In 1962, he played a major role in founding the Downtown Edmond Business Association.
He and a few other business owners felt there was a need for an organized group to ensure the downtown was preserved and would continue to prosper.
Today, the Downtown Edmond Business Association helps to sponsor events that bring in thousands of visitors and shoppers.
“Downtown has withstood pretty much everything,” he said. “It's amazing. Everyone's worked real hard.”
Not many people have outworked Gibson, who still goes to the store several times a week at age 90. In the early years, a 12-hour day wasn't uncommon.
Gibson was like many of his generation who served during World War II and then worked hard afterward in forging a better life for his family and community.
He originally worked at the McCall's store in Norman. Wanting to open his own store, he got financial help from Lewis McCall that led to the March 1953 opening of McCall's menswear store in Edmond.
Twenty years later he became the sole owner. Now his son, Steve, is the owner and handles day-to-day operations.
Also involved in the opening of the Edmond store was a young man by the name of James Bumgarner.
He helped renovate the building where the store is today at 21 S Broadway.
For about a week's work, Bumgarner was paid $46. He bought a bus ticket and headed to California.
“He said he was going to get into modeling,” Gibson recalled.
Bumgarner did become a model and then a successful actor. From time to time Gibson still hears from the man now known to millions as James Garner.
In the 1950s through 1970s, there was a lot of competition as American businessmen had more of a formal appearance at work. McCall's was never battling with the larger chain stores, Gibson said. His mission was always to offer top quality clothing and service.
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Downtown has withstood pretty much everything. It's amazing. Everyone's worked real hard.”
Morris “Hoot” Gibson,