Resident recalls 37-year career with department store

From the JC Penneys employee newsletter: Ray Moore (center) shakes hands with James Cash Penney (right), the namesake of the JC Penney department store. (Photo provided by Ray Moore)

By Almeda Girod

Resident Writer

Ray Moore was born in Cambridge, NY, in 1924. As a young child, he and his parents moved to Delta, Colorado, seeking a better climate for his father who had contracted tuberculosis. Ray was 12 when his father died, and he credits many from Delta for being his mentors and support. He enjoyed a relaxed and happy youth. After high school graduation in 1943, life changed when he entered basic training at Camp Roberts in California. From there, he joined the Army Specialized Training Program at Montana State. Ray served 34 months during World War II including four months in combat in Germany.

After returning from overseas, Ray enrolled in the University of Colorado. He was married to a high school classmate and they went on to have three children: Tom, David, and Molly. Ray went to work in 1949 for the JC Penney Store in Boulder, Colorado. J.C. (James Cash) Penney, the son of a Baptist minister, believed in a strong Christian and work ethic with employees moving up through the ranks. Even though Ray had a business degree, he worked in all areas of the store including sweeping and stocking shelves. Ray initially worked a 50-hour to 60-hour week for $185.00 a month. Later as a manager, he shared in the profits of the individual store.

The first Golden Rule Store (later renamed JC Penneys) was established in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The “dry goods” stores had grown to more than 1700 stores during Ray’s tenure and are now, in 2019, fewer than 700. Every town of any significant size had a Penneys and often they were adjacent to a Woolworths. The stores served a symbiotic relationship since Penneys advertised and Woolworths created valuable foot traffic.

The stores were open until 10:00 p.m. on Saturday nights to accommodate the rural folks who drove to town for shopping and socialization. Some went to, “Terrill’s Café for a 35-cent meal”. Ray recalls the important function of the window dresser who changed the clothing on mannequins weekly. A cashier sat upstairs in an open balcony receiving a cylinder with the bill and coins from the clerks. Initially this was accomplished by pulling a chain but later a pneumatic tube was used.

Frequent moves were necessary for advancement. During his 37-year career, Ray worked in seven stores in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. He met his second wife in Carlsbad, New Mexico. After her death, Ray moved to Riderwood in 2007 to be near his daughter and her family.

Since being at Riderwood, Ray was instrumental in revamping the Riderwood putting green. He and Jack Matisoff began semi-monthly putting tournaments. He is a member of the Village Protestant Church and enjoys bingo.

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