Well-Known Women's Clothing Store Closes in August 2004
For seventy years, 123 N. Cuyler has been the address for an outstanding retail store of clothing for women. The building at the corner of N. Cuyler and W. Kingsmill was completed for J. N. Duncan ifl December of 1926. The Duncan Building, 45 feet by 90 feet, was designed for businesses on the ground floor (121 and 123 N. Cuyler) and office spaces on the second floor (121 N. Cuyler). Seaborn Maps for 1929 and 1930 show the Crystal Palace Confectionery and the French Shoppe at 121 N. Cuyler and Wade's Store at 123 N. Cuyler. Nine tenants on the second floor included an attorney, a realty company and the P. A. Webb Emergency Hospital. Wade and Ferne Duncan had bought the Fitzgerald Variety Store in 1925 and then operated it for eight years during the oil boom. They named their store "Wade's Store -- If it's in town we have it." Ferne said, "Living through an oil boom while you are young and involved has to be one of the finest, interesting, educational and revealing eras that people will ever experience." The oil boom was followed by great drought and depression, and the Wade Duncan family moved to a ranch in Wheeler County. Pampa city directories for 1931, 1932 and 1933 show that 123 N. Cuyler was occu- pied by Brownbilt Shoe Store with Joseph R. Lazarus as manager. Bernard M. "Bunny" Behrman, born May 16, 1908, in Toronto, Canada, married Leah Winer on October 22, 1933. They came to Pampa in April 1934 and began to prepare to open a retail store of clothing for women. The space at 123 N. Cuyler was completely renovated for the grand opening on August 16, 1934. The formal opening of ~ Behrman's store was heralded by announcements claim- ing rich-hued frocks, accessories and items with New York stamps. Leah Behrman had returned from New York with a full inventory line and was planning future trips to "keep Pampa women in the latest modes." In following years she went to market with her customers in mind. It was not uncommon for regular customers to receive late night calls with a cheery, "I'm back from market and I have something for you. You'll love it." On August 9, 1965, Bernard M. Behrman, Demaris E. Holt and Clayton W. Husted were returning from a fishing expedition in Great Bear Lake near Alberta, Canada. The three men were killed when their plane crashed in Wyoming. In June 1969 Leah Behrman sold the store to Louis Saied whose son-in-law, Doug - Coon, took over the operation. Coon commuted from Perryton until he and his wife, Georgia, moved to Pampa in 1970. Coon continued to operate the store with the Behrman eye for fashion and design, the same desire for quality and the same traditions -- so important to the Behrmans. The 50th Anniversary of Behrman's was on September 10, 1984. Coon announced that Leah Behrman would be present to receive a big welcome from former employees and patrons, friends and neighbors, and that an attempt was being made to have as many retired employees as possible to attend a reception on Saturday night. He said, "Leah knows that we care about the tradition the Behrmans established and that we still pursue the same course," On October 1, 1987, Coon closed Behrman's, and the space was rented to Images owned by Jaclyn Pearson, Ginger Pittman and Susan Pearson of Spearman. With Betty Elbert as manager, the owners continued the tradition of providing fashionable clothing for women. Images has been a Brighton Heart Store with a full and complete line of Brighton products at all times. Also Images has carried a complete line of Estee Lauder treatment, fragrance and makeup. After seventeen years of operation, Images is closing its doors for the last time so that the owners can spend more time with their grandchildren. This closing is the end of a 70-year-old chapter on one of Pampa's oldest, most successful and well-known downtown store.