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Earl Paul Penland

Dallas Moring News
12 November 1950


Merchant Quick to Answer Opportunity's First Call
Opportunity has seldom had to whistle more than once for Earl Paul Penland.

     A husky man with a thick shock of white hair and a razor-sharp mind, the vice- president of the Reynolds-Penland Company, has taken advantages of the breaks in the game of life in which the breaks many times influence the final score.
     Paul Penland, of course, is a staunch Texan.  As such, he probably would be the first to say that among the biggest breaks in his life was his coming to Texas.
     It must be pointed out, however, that this was not his choice.  He was only five years old at the time.
It was Christmas Day, 1885, when Paul Penland was born on the farm of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Penland in Clay County, North Carolina.
"I spoiled that Christmas for my family," Penland recalls with a chuckle, and an evident exaggeration.
By the time 1890 rolled around, the Penlands had seven sons.
     "My father decided to come to Texas so we boys could have lots of wide, open space to roam around," Paul Penland says.
Another factor in the move - perhaps just as important - was that the Penland homestead was on a pretty steep hillside.  As such, it was not the best place in the world to raise crops.
So to Texas came the Penlands and bought a farm in Bonham.  Two years later they pulled up the stakes again and purchased a farm on the outskirts of Whitewright.
It was a typical blackland farm.  With profits from his cotton and corn, J. A. Penland tried to feed the seven little mouths.  As they grew up, the boys helped. "Picking many a bale of cotton," Paul Penland recalls.
     Incidentally, the late Dr. George W. Truett, venerated veteran pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, also was born in Clay County, North Carolina, and his parents' farm was close to the Penlands.  Dr. Truett was the brother of Paul Penland's mother.
     Penland attended high school in Whitewright and then went to Grayson College.  While going to school, he worked in a clothing store in Whitewright.  He had helped around a grocery store first, but jumped at a chance when the clothier offered him the job.
     Young Paul was an active, fun-loving youth.  If he heard of somebody giving a square dance or party, he'd call all his friends and he'd be there too.
These dances gave him one of the first chances to practice an innate salesmanship.  Few people promenading around the floor didn't know before the dance was over, that Paul Penland worked in a clothing store and would be very happy to sell them anything they liked if they?d drop by and visit him.
     But Whitewright offered limited opportunity.  So in 1904, at nineteen, he struck out for Dallas, when an older brother already was employed.
The brother worked in a drug-store and had a room in an upper floor of the building.  Paul moved in.
     Within no time, he had a job working for Sig Baldauf.  It was Baldauf who had given Ed Reynolds, president of Reynolds-Penland Company, his first job in Dallas, too.  Baldauf's store was located on part of the site now occupied by Reynolds-Penland store.
     When Baldauf died in 1906 Penland joined Burk & Company, another clothier.  Reynolds had worked for Burk, too, but had left to become a traveling salesman.
Five years later, Penland was boys' wear buyer for another large clothing store.  In 1925, he took charge of the store's men's department as well.
     By 1929, Penland was ready to go in business for himself.
     That was about the time that Ed Reynolds, by now operating his own little store at the Baldauf's site, wanted Penland to join him.
     The two had been good friends form many years.  Reynolds was four years older than Penland and about the same age as Penland's older brother.  These two had been close buddies and Paul Penland took a liking to Reynolds, too. The two went out together on dates. 
     They had talked about the possibility of becoming partners for a long time.  When the time came, Penland borrowed some money, added his own savings and the two prospective pillars of the clothing business were mortared together.
In 1915, Penland married Miss Lela Williams.  In 1914, Penland moved into Dr. Truett's home and started attending the First Baptist Church.  And it was there that his friendship with Lela Williams nurtured.
     They have three sons - John Paul, William Rolfe and James Marr Penland.  Bill is a chemical engineer with the Standard Oil Company (Ohio) in St. Louis.  The other twoare with Reynolds-Penland.
The three sons have in one respect, at least, made quite a hot seat out of the chair their father occupies.  John Paul attended Baylor, William, the University of Texas, and Jimmy, Southern Methodist.
     But the father has done his best to be a diplomat, a task not easy for such an ardent football fan as he. His credo of doing business, like his partner's, is quite simple. "If you work hard," Reynolds advises, "you're bound to succeed."


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