John Wayne Jabour is a name synonymous with Vicksburg and hospitality. Randy Stroud recalled his memories of John Wayne in a post on social media. The response was a second tribute to John Wayne from the community. With permission, we are resharing the story here.
MY TRIBUTE TO JOHN WAYNE JABOUR
by Randy Stroud
I was shopping at The Hub one Saturday, circa 1980, when “Big Mike” Jabour was waiting on me. And he asked me, “How would you like to come work for me here at The Hub?” There have not been many times when I was speechless, but I was flabbergasted. I answered him immediately, “It would be my honor and pleasure to work for you.” To this day, I still don’t know what prompted him to invite me to join the team at The Hub.
So I started working there on weekends, holidays and part-time during the summer season. I had been trained in clothing sales by the phenomenal Charles Abraham ever since my sophomore year in high school. But Mr. Jabour introduced me to his clothing lines and how he wanted them presented to customers.
His son, John Wayne, was in charge of the store, and the ordering and buying of merchandise. He had earned his degree in business administration as well as a law degree from Ole Miss. So I soon came under his tutelage as a haberdasher, and I even dreamed of owning one of my own someday. John Wayne had a way with customers that was unique and remarkable. And I only had to watch him in action to learn some of the nuances of selling clothes and dealing with people.
John Wayne would drop whatever he was doing to meet a customer entering the store, and he would greet them with a firm handshake and that winning smile of his. He would sell that customer the suit, dress shirt, matching tie, and shoes that he came in to buy. But for the one who did not find exactly what he was shopping for, John Wayne would say, “I’m sorry that we didn’t find what you had in mind, but can I show you these sweaters that we just got in?” Notice, he did not mention sell, just show. Nine times out of ten that customer left satisfied even though he had bought something entirely different than what he was shopping for.
John Wayne shopped at the Dallas markets for clothes. He had particular customers in mind to buy, in size, style and appeal. When he waited on a customer, he wanted that person to look his finest. Every customer responded to a different approach. That is where master salesmanship comes in.
Through the years, and after my employment there, John Wayne hired gifted salespeople, like Kaleel Jabour, who knew every customer and their preferences in clothing. Also among them, Bill Monsour, who worked there for 17 years and waited on me many times. These were people who knew what you wanted when you walked in the door. I got to know his sister, Pam Mayfield, who ran the women’s department upstairs, The Top of The Hub. She did for the women’s department what John Wayne did for the men’s, which was to bring in quality merchandise with her customers in mind.
Their Mother, Ms. Azizie, made my day when she made her entrance on a fine Saturday morning with that glorious smile and a kind word for everyone.
I will never forget one Easter when I came in looking for a suit. John Wayne said something like, “Well, I have the right one for you, and it will knock your socks off.” It was a three-piece cream-colored linen suit that did knock my socks off, and he sold me all the accessories to go with it, including cream-colored bucks. I wore that suit until I outgrew it and then I gave it to a friend of mine. I wore that tie for a decade and I was still getting compliments on it. It had a pattern of flowers that were white, beige and brown. I still have that one.
John Wayne had a knack for selling such items with certain customers in mind. In showing ties, he was at his finest. He would say, “I like this one, and I don’t dislike this one for you.” Or, “When you walk into a room wearing this one, people will take notice.” He never failed me in that regard. I got many compliments on my ties!
There is another aspect of doing business with a fine clothier like The Hub, the alterations people on the staff. John Wayne had the best, and one of them was Ms. West (My apology for not remembering her full name, but I don’t know that I ever knew it.) When John Wayne or any employee fitted someone for a suit, it was a foregone conclusion that the sleeves would need to be altered to hit the wrist at the precise and proper place. Some people wanted cuffs and others not, no problem.
Here is what set John Wayne apart. When someone bought a dress shirt, he tried it on, and the sleeves were altered to hit the wrist at the appropriate place also. Those ladies in alterations were simply the best that could be found. John Wayne treated them with great respect and paid them well. The customer always tried on his suit when the alterations were done. If for any reason the pants, shirt or suit sleeves were off, (which did not happen often), it was corrected at no charge to the customer.
I have actually attended conventions and seminars and things like that in others states, and was seriously asked, “Is it true that most people in Mississippi don’t wear shoes most of the time?”
When we had the finest clothing that could be bought, from Paris to New York, right there in Vicksburg, MS. Those northern folks thought that we were a bunch a hillbilly yokels. Apparently, they never attended an Ole Miss game or a cotillion for our young ladies.
On my last day on the job in The Hub, Big Mike put his arm around me and said, “Randy, you will always be a member of The Hub.” I didn’t know for sure exactly what that meant until my first purchase after that, for which I was given a 20% discount, and that was for life. I was so saddened by the passing of Mr. Jabour and his vibrant wife, Ms. Azizie. It broke my heart when I learned that John Wayne had passed away at the age of 65.
When I came into the store one day, I saw John Wayne using a cane. I inquired about his health, but he did not give me much information on his condition. Then, as time went on, John Wayne had to use a wheelchair. I did not say anything more about it, but I could see a change in his eyes.
Everyone who knows Vicksburg knows of John Wayne Jabour’s role in transforming the Miss Mississippi Pageant into a class operation that produced numerous Miss America contenders. As I remember, John Wayne’s role on the board was primarily as chairman of judging, a vital factor in the pageant. That, in conjunction with the talents and advice of Dr. and Ms. Briggs Hopson, made a huge difference in the quality and class of the pageant.
John Wayne was so respected and admired as a leader of the downtown business community. He was a Jaycee and a member of the Kiwanis Club. He did so much to nurture and train the young men who worked for him at The Hub. I suppose that they were lifetime members.
The greatest accolade I could possibly offer for my friend, John Wayne Jabour, is that he was a true believer and a respected Vestryman at his beloved Church of the Holy Trinity. What’s more, he was a generous and loving provider for his gracious and lovely wife and a doting father to his wonderful children. He was beloved by many true friends. He will never be forgotten.
I will see you further up the road, my dear and valued mentor and friend.
These are some of the things that people have shared about their experiences with John Wayne, Pam Mayfield, Big Mike, Ms. Azizie and the Jabour family.
Travis Vance: Getting ready to dress for court I still have many of the ties he selected for my suits and sports coats however I’ve long outgrown my suits and sports coats but really miss the Hub as the place to shop as a young man. I was simply a customer of his but was always treated to the best of clothing as I also got many compliments on my attire I also admire his sister Pam Mayfield who ran the ladies department of the Hub I think I bought the business with as much shopping as my girls did while growing up I also miss John Wayne and I say RIP my friend see ya soon.
Petesy Smith: John Wayne Jabour was such a role model for young and old. He always had a smile for you and never bemoaned his medical problems. He worked so hard to get the much-needed medicine for his disorder covered by insurance so that those who couldn’t afford it would get it. A beloved member of the Church of the Holy Trinity, he is sorely missed.
Gary Gold: For many years my dad was the accountant for The Hub, and Mr. Mike and Mrs. Azizie were dear friends of the family. Of course, we knew John Wayne also and I’m fairly sure it was he who got me the perfect suit that I wore to the wedding when my brother Alex married his wife Leslie in Harvard Chapel. Wonderful people they were! Not only did the Jabour family serve their clients so well with fine quality apparel, but I vividly remember Mr. Mike or John Wayne marking sleeve lengths or getting on a knee to mark pants lengths for alterations which were always done by their in-house seamstresses. Their service was completely professional!
Bill Monsour: I worked at the Hub for 17 years. JW was my 3rd son’s Godfather. I was taught a lot about dealing with people. God Bless the Jabour family
Beverly Fatheree: Vicksburg had wonderful, very high-class shopping, and folks came from all over to shop at The Hub, Karl’s, Sage’s Bootery, Adele’s, Rice’s, Versil’s, The Valley, Koury’s children’s shop and so many other downtown establishments. Add in the high-quality restaurants and you had quite the cosmopolitan town.
Loney Hallberg: My memories are of a good friend at Bowmar Ave and Carr Central/Cooper. Before my family had a TV set, I’d sometimes go home with him and watch Capt Video. Never bought a suit anywhere except The Hub until I’d finished college.
Shelby Martin Burr: Great family… loved the Hub! I got all my clothes from the Top of the Hub!! My mom loved taking me shopping there..when I got married my husband needed a suit…of course, my mom took him to the Hub for his very first suit!
Janice Agnew Nassour: He was one of the nicest men and always had a smile. It was always a pleasure to wait on him at the Post Office.
Weesie McGuire: I too am a member of “The Hub” family as are many of my siblings. I worked upstairs for Pam and she was one of my great life teachers!!!
Shelby Martin Burr: Great family…loved the Hub!! I got all my clothes from the Top of the Hub!! My mom loved taking me shopping there..when I got married my husband needed a suit…of course, my mom took him to the Hub for his very first suit!