As has been discussed earlier, our heroes Paul Neely and Jack Marlar rapidly overcame a series of major obstacles. First they had purchased a land at a reasonable price due largely to it’s propensity to flood and the possibility of a foreclosure. Two, with Brycee Marlar and his equipment available, they had plenty of dirt to move forward off the back of the land in order raise lots at the front. And third, they had, in Humpty Dumpty, an anchor tenant.
I ASKED Neely how they were able to contact other possible national or regional tenants. He said, “Those guys who place stores must talk, because after Humpty we had a steady stream of applicants.
HOUSTON , WE’VE GOT A PROBLEM
Otasco, Levines, Top Value Stamps, TG&Y. The center was going to fill back beyond their dreams, but that meant they could no longer move dirt from the back of the property. They needed to move dirt in! And so, as the story goes, they went across the street where Reasor’s and the roller rink now reside, and bought fifteen acres over there in order for Brycee to have raw material to move south across the street. No question now: Cat Creek must be straightened and the whole thing raised.
AND THEN THERE WAS THE PARKING TO CONSIDER
An early NeMar ad in the Claremore Progress advertises 550 parking places available. “Concrete was 50 cents a foot. Can you believe that,” Neely asked. “That Brycee could do anything, or if he couldn’t, he knew just who to call.”
And so it came to pass, on a blustery day in 1967, that all the dignitaries, Chamber heads Warren Pixley, Ernie Smart, Mayor Dick Legate, Paul Neely and Jack Marlar (bow tie), along with representatives of the tenants, donned their best suits, dress shoes, and ties, took their shovels out to the middle of a soggy bog,
And with great fanfare, broke ground.
Editor’s note: I was recently able to have a nice long interview with Paul, Jonnie and Steve Neely. They shared memories of the days when NeMar was being built and were gracious enough to share with me their family’s photos and memorabilia of that period. Since NeMar was such an integral part of Claremore’s history, I will be sharing a series of stories, photographs, and memories over the next few weeks.