His fascination with old Oklahoma City department stores began more than two decades ago when he was in middle school.
Now librarian Ajax Delvecki, 39, is digging up the history of bygone downtown stores.
John A. Brown Department Store, Kerr's Department Store and Halliburton's once defined the character of Oklahoma City, Delvecki said.
“I've kind of been following this since I was at Harding Middle School,” he said. “It started when John A. Brown went out of business in 1984.”
Today Delvecki, who works at the Midwest City Library and lives in northwest Oklahoma City, is gathering memories and photographs of the stores for a book.
“It's just amazing to me that these stores were such a big part of Oklahoma City daily life,” he said. “We are losing so much local history. These stores were just a big part of our community.”
The history of John A. Brown, Kerr's and Halliburton's covers the days of a bustling downtown before the movement toward suburban growth, while capturing tales of homegrown success and economic downturns, Delvecki said.
Delvecki worked at the downtown Oklahoma City library before moving to England in 2010. He returned in 2012 with a renewed passion for local history, and now works at the Midwest City Library.
In the past, Oklahoma City was distinguished from Dallas or Tulsa because of the different landmark stores, he said. “It's important to keep up with our identity of where we came from and where we are going,” Delvecki said.
The original John A. Brown store was at 221 W Main St. from 1915 until 1974. Kerr's was at 316 W Main St. from 1919 to 1966, and Halliburton's at 327 W Main St. from 1905 to 1960. His book will cover the stores histories in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa, he said.
Delvecki said he is looking for photographs, mementos and interviews from former staff and customers. He phone number is 420-6381; his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.