Main Street Whitesboro, Texas was a bustling scene in 1954. Two movie theaters, grocery stores, department stores, pharmacies/soda fountains, and a newly added sewing factory. Vivian Young and a couple of friends had been working for a dress company in Gainesville. On the drive to work one morning, they decided that if they could sew for someone else, they could sew for themselves. This lit an entrepreneurial fire that still burns today, Whitesboro Manufacturing Co., Inc. was born on the corner of Main and Union. A few years later a larger building was rented on Main Street followed in the 60’s by the building of a factory behind Main Street. A second building was purchased in 1971 where a retail store was opened to offer ladies clothing, fabrics and notions.
In 1954, the Finley-Hayes Pharmacy/Soda Fountain hired a young man as the soda jerk. Hank Lovejoy was a hard worker. Each morning he swept the front stoop. One day a young lady walked past with a baby. The baby called her “mama” leading Hank to think the baby belonged to her. She wandered into the soda fountain and ordered a Cherry Coke. Hank served her and learned that she, Rita Young, was babysitting the little girl whose mother worked at Whitesboro Manufacturing down the street. Rita’s mother and father, Bill and Vivian owned the sewing factory. When Hank wanted to take Rita on a date, Bill, allowed a date to church. Hank was obliged to comply and they “dated” while walking to and from church. Hank was 16, Rita was 15.
Pharmacist, Ed Hayes, attended the same church and had noticed young Hank. One day standing behind the counter, Ed shared the good news of Jesus with Hank who realized he needed a “rescue” him from his sin...past, present, and future. He found that hope in Christ. This decision changed the trajectory of Hank’s life .
A few years later, Hank and Rita married. Hank often says that he met his mate and his Maker at the soda fountain. His life-long affinity with all things soda fountain had much to do with the major life decisions that began there.
The couple worked alongside Bill and Vivian in the dress factory. In 1983, they took over the operations moving to 138 E. Main in the building with the retail store and renamed the business, Lovejoy Cutting Room, Inc. This continued through 1993 when the apparel industry was no longer profitable. The retail store, now Lovejoys on Main, evolved into home decor and ladies clothing as their children became adults and married. The girls, Laurie and Sharon and daughter-in-law, Lesa became the buyer and decorators. When grandkids arrived, the children’s area became a natural expansion, then the cafe in the early 2000’s. Hank and his son, Chris built the soda fountain in 2011 as a model of the Finley-Hayes soda fountain that holds such meaning in Hank’s life. All nine grandchildren have worked and contributed to the success and feel of Lovejoys. Several continue working regularly and the others, as needed, making Lovejoys a 4th generation family business.
Hank and Rita enjoy visiting with those that frequent Lovejoys, always willing to serve, listen, pray and give a little wisdom as the opportunity presents itself. Lovejoys is now a fun, peaceful place for friends and family to meet and converse while shopping or over a tasty lunch all made in-house.