Hampton Cleaners Becomes WWII Veteran Business

My mother Gladys Newton’s (1909-1979) stories are often my source of Calhoun County History. Here is another. My folks operated a dry-cleaning business during WWII. Most of the war my dad Pete Newton (1909-1981) worked during the week as an electrician in defense plant construction. Often, he was only home on weekends. Mom, with the help of Jack Harris (1915-1993) managed the business. Mom told me stories of the cleaners such as dry-cleaning WWII military uniforms at no charge and of one old Civil War veteran who had his uniform cleaned each week for Sunday church. I remember the concrete floor in our home/business being cracked from the heat of the old boiler. After the war, my dad went into business with one of his brothers J.O. “Obb” Newton (1910-1990) and Hampton Cleaners was sold. My mom told me Woodrow Edward Blann (1918-1969) a WWII US Army veteran purchased the cleaning business. T/4 Woodrow Blann served in New Caledonia, Japan and the Philippine receiving two campaign awards, the Good Conduct Medal and the Philippine Liberation Medal. He told mom he had gotten interested in clothes pressing during the war. She reminisced him telling her about ironing fellow soldier uniforms for a small remittance when deployed. Th e attached photo donated to the museum by Judy Hearnsberger of Woodbury must have been taken shortly after Mr. Blann purchased Hampton Cleaners. It appears to be on the same premises. Mom was proud of how well Woodrow developed the business and the new modern Blann Cleaners he constructed up town. It all began with a WWII soldier with the ability to see a need and capitalize on it. I know first-hand few GI’s like to maintain a uniform and would much rather pay someone else to do it. CalCo Museum has other county business artifacts and some are featured on www.calcomuseum.com including the address numbers from the original Hampton Cleaners building.


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