Buckner’s Pneumatic Tubes: Gone

Let’s get the big question out of the way first: the pneumatic tubes that whisked your money to and from the cashiers are gone. Not a trace of them remains, the owner said.

This isn’t the definitive story on the Buckner-Ragsdale building, by the way. I just knocked off a few shots when I stopped by on another errand. We’ll do it up right on the next trip.

UPDATE to original story about Buckner-Ragsdale

I won’t need to do the definitive story on the long-time Cape business. Reader JTL left this link to the Lamkin family website.

Be sure to follow this link to advertisements, photos of the store and its employees and all sorts of historical information. This will take you back to an era where customer service was a reality, not a buzzword.

“Messrs. Buckner, Ragsdale & Lamkin built the store upon and retained those principals of  retailing that placed the customer first.  Services such as free alterations, free delivery, no interest credit, free gift wraping and an in depth knowledge of customers maintained in the memories of the large and loyal sales staff differentiated Mainstreet retailing from the Sears catalog.  During the 1970s, marketing professors at Southeast Missouri State College often used Buckners as an example of an antiquated, not numbers oriented retail establishment.  It was, without apology.  Those inculcated with modern retailing practices might try this experiment.  Call the  Macy’s salesperson most knowledgeable of your personal preferences and say, “I’m going to a Texas Hold ’em party tonight.  You know what I like.  Send me five dresses/coats/pairs of shoes on the afternoon delivery, and I’ll pick one.  I’ll return the others sometime next week, and pay for the one I keep maybe next month.”  What response would one receive for this once standard 60’s request?”

Buckner-Ragsdale photo gallery

These are details I thought were interesting on a cold, rainy, blustery day. It don’t take me long to lose interest when icy water is dripping down my collar. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.


11 Replies to “Buckner’s Pneumatic Tubes: Gone”

  1. Your money went to the upstairs place in the tubes and came back to you using the overhead guy wire thingy…or did the 60’s block out or add another memory?
    BR’s was an upscale department store and all your Boy Scout and Girl Scout stuff was there. I longed to have a snake bite kit which was I believe $0.98 at the time, but never had the money at the time I was in the store. I do remember that several of the Troop 5 guys from the VFW had them and thought they were cool…and they were at the time.
    So I carried my Tuf Nut knife and practiced cutting small X’s in trees for the time I needed to cut x’s over the bite and then suck the venom out, save the life of the poor snake bit person and then be a hero!
    Only later in life did I ever meet a person who was bitten by a poisonous snake. Bill Kingery, one of the life guards at the pool. I believe that is only person I have known to be bitten. So the .98 cents I saved was a good thing, I guess.

    1. I’m sure Keith Robinson will weigh in and point out that they weren’t really pneumatic tubes, but every reference I could find called them that. I think they were more mechanical than pneumatic, but…

      Your snakebite kit reference brings to mind an old, bad joke: two guys were hiking when one had to answer a call of nature. While he was squatting down, he was bitten in an area not normally exposed to sunlight.

      His buddy ran to town to fetch a doctor. The doctor was in the middle of an operation and couldn’t leave, but he instructed the guy to cut an X over the bite, then suck out the poison.

      When he got back to his snakebit comrade, the frantic man screamed, “Where’s the doctor? What did he say?”

      “Doc said, ‘You’re going to die.'”

  2. I hadn’t thought about the tubes for years until our drive-through bank and Walgreen’s started using them. I get a kick out the GEICO commercial where the gekko gets sucked up into the tube. I’ll have to ask my husband about the Buckner tubes mechanics/physics.
    This is the kind of information he carries around in his head. LOL!

    1. Don Neumeyer here. Jane is right that I do the mechanic stuff. Not a pneumatic system! I remember the wire trolley cash cups. Check photo # 3 for the 1957 interior set. The cash and price ticket was put in a cup, twisted to a metal cap, pull a rope to latch to the always traveling wire rope trolley, the cashier would make change and send back. No money on the floor, no cash drawers to balance with the staff below!

      I also remember buying Cub and Boy Scout shirts, neckerchiefs, and manuals. St Marys was Boy Scout Troop 1, which I thought odd and how did that happen in Cape. They also had one of the X-ray foot/shoe machines. I never had it used on me.

      The traveling trolley was around 1917 with Lansom wire system.

  3. Prior to the tubes there was a slingshot apparatus. Before that there was a larger slingshot with a hanging shelf which carried the purchased merchandise to the mez for wrapping so that it would not be soiled on the dusty trip home.

    The tubes may be gone, but each of us has a cannister as a momento.

  4. Our genealogic website has the following regarding the store –

    As the site shows, the store was composed of two buildings, one of which was sold and the other retained for our parents use. Now that they have left the 27 step climb to the second floor behind, in the spirit of shameless promotion exhibited here recently, I should add that the 130 North Main building, like its larger brother, is for sale.

    1. Wow! You’ve saved me the trouble of doing the definitive story on Buckner-Ragsdale. I’m going to post an update to the story to send folks to your link. That’s a real treasure.

  5. This being Christmas Eve, I recall the old Buckner’s tradition of holiday toasting begining after Noon on December 24. By closing some weren’t always considering the customer first.

    One particular season ednding night in the early 60’s, the judgements of delivery driver and his assistant were particularly impaired. So full of the Christmas Spirit were they, that rather than deliver the last minute gifts filling the black ’52 Chevy van to those whose names appeared on the tickets, they instead determined to play Santa. Numerous South Cape residents got surprise Buckner’s presents that year. It is not recorded whether the garments fit the recipients.

    The Lamkins also shared in the adventure, spending the remainder of the evening refilling and delivering the errant orders.

  6. Like I have posted earlier, I am a student at Southeast and I have been doing a history on the property located on quality corner. In my research I have discovered that when flengte’s mercantile went up for sale and was bought by w.b.ragsdale and c.w. buckner, flegnte was a postmaster. In a sanborn map from the late 1800s I discovered that at 130 north main a post office was present. If anyone has any information verifying that E.W. Flengte was the postmaster in this very same building it would be very beneficial to my project. Also if the lamkin family knows when L.e.m. or robert lamkin became more than a partner in the business in cape that would be most helpful. It would also be great if any more information can be offered on the business college located on the first floor. I would like to discover a more revealing look into the buildings past between the fire that occurred in 1916 to the day of closing in 1982. This research has been enjoyable but I want to make sure that get the story right.

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