The founder of Walden's Cleaners, Jess Walden was born in Shawnee in 1902. Grandfather Tom Walden owned a blacksmith shop in Shawnee. Jess, worked in the blacksmith shop but wanted to learn another trade. He moved to Oklahoma City and roomed with a friend when he was about 20 years old.
Jess started working in a Dry Cleaners somewhere in the downtown area next to a small restaurant. He learned about the Dry Cleaning process and worked full time doing everything he could. Norman came into the picture when Clark Cleaners came into Norman about 1923. Jess helped install the equipment at Clark Cleaners and then moved to Norman. Jess was not married to Vivian at this time and he commuted back to Shawnee a lot for the first few months. His sister, Della, was dating a guy named Fred Evans (to whom Fred Walden was named after). Fred and a partner named Burt moved to Norman and opened a cleaners at 121 North Porter, this was in or about 1927. Jess was still working at Clark Cleaners and this is when he quit Clarks and went to work for uncle Fred. Yes Fred was now married to Della, Jess's sister and my Jess and Vivian also were married and living in Norman. Jess worked for Uncle Fred and Burt but times were very hard, the depression was going on and in 1933 the Evans and Burt owed my dad back wages and offered to sell the cleaners to my dad and mom.
In "1933" Jess and Vivian somehow got a loan and for about five hundred dollars and with the money owed for back wages Walden Cleaners was born, I am not sure of the exact date but I think in the Spring in 1933.
September 1935 Joe Walden was born, World War Two, and times were still pretty bad. The Navy Base came to town which really helped out Norman, nowhere to spend your money everything was rationed so everything they made now went to pay on the new house at 202 North Flood. Yes in 1933 broke, 1935 a new baby and now in 1943 a new house and paid off in three years. October 1946, Fred Walden was born. Vivian was thirty nine Jess was forty five, just think when things were just getting better. Norman is doing pretty good now into the fifties and in 1957 with Norman moving to the west, build a pick up (satellite) store, put in the front yard at 202 North Flood.
Fred Walden worked at the store on Porter off and on from 1959 to 1968. In 1968 he took a job in Texas until spring of 1969. In May of 1969 Fred Walden met his wife Carolyn Walden at Sonic on Lindsey Street. They were married in December and for the first few months Carolyn worked at another job but it wasn't long before she came to work at Waldens Cleaners. In 2009 Carolyn and Fred see each other every day at work. They moved the main plant from 121 North Porter to 505 Highland Parkway in 1978. Now in our third generation at Walden's with Tonny and his wife Sara working in the business.