Re­mem­ber when...

J.C. Pen­ney han­dled cash trans­ac­tions us­ing vac­uum tubes

Texarkana Gazette - - METRO/STATE - Colum­nist Floyd Fenix is a Texarkana busi­ness­man and ed­u­ca­tor.

I am old enough to re­mem­ber when our lo­cal J.C. Pen­ney store had vac­uum tubes. When a cus­tomer pur­chased an item, the clerk put the money and ticket in a cap­sule and placed it in the tube, and the tube car­ried the cap­sule to the of­fice up­stairs.

All cash and change was han­dled by the of­fice staff up­stairs. The change and paid ticket were sent back by vac­uum tube to the clerk on the sales floor. While wait­ing for the of­fice to process the pur­chase, the clerk fre­quently wrapped it. J.C. Pen­ney gave spe­cific train­ing to all sales clerks on how to wrap a pack­age cor­rectly. The sold item was wrapped with brown Kraft pa­per and then tied with a string.

The J.C. Pen­ney train­ing taught the store clerk how to pull the string tight, then hold the string in place with the ring fin­ger while us­ing the thumb and first two fin­gers to tie the string in a knot. The op­er­a­tion was done quickly and ef­fi­ciently with only one hand. The wrap­ping tech­nique used a min­i­mal amount of pa­per, string or rib­bon. J.C. Pen­ney per­son­ally trained Sam Wal­ton dur­ing a trip to his Des Moines, Iowa, store in 1940 on how to cor­rectly wrap pack­ages.

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