He was the son of a farmer named Burgin, who had a 53 acre farm in Polkville. There were five children in the family, one girl and four boys. He was the second child born and was named after Dr. Fred Falls, the family doctor. Arnold Frederick is his name and he loved the farm where they raised cotton, corn and wheat. When he was five years old, he begged to go with his dad and be a helper on the farm.
That five year olds' persistent request was an indication of the drive and gusto which personifies his personality. As a young man, while working on the farm, Arnold also took on a second job at Stamey's in Polkville. He was given the position as Clerk #2 and this taught him about retailing. He recalls that Stamey had a barter system going on at the time and was where, mostly, women would bring in dozens of eggs and trade them for snuff or groceries. Arnold also worked at Ora Mill Supermarket.
When Arnold was 19 years old he was drafted into the U.S. Army. After boot camp, he was sent to Ft. Bragg for advanced training. He was then assigned to the 155mm self-propelled Howitzer division. It was 1959 and the Berlin crisis was going on when he was shipped to Germany. As a go getter, Private Arnold also volunteered to work at the Army Chapel. He assisted Captain Claude E. Moorefield in the chapel and accompanied him when picking up payroll and films. Arnold always kept busy and saved his money. In 1961 he was honorably discharged as a Corporal and returned to Shelby. It was then that he noticed an ad in the paper for a sales position at Hugh's Jewelry. Mr. Martin Rosenthal, the owner, hired him in just 20 minutes. Arnold liked the business very much and worked there for 12 years.
Finally, in 1973, he bought Greene's Jewelry store located at 226 South Washington St. and changed the name to Arnold's Jewelry. He was on his way. From his store to the corner of E. Graham St., there was nothing but a parking lot. It had three owners. Around 1978 he was asked if he wanted to buy the taxi stand at the corner of E. Arey St. and he did. In 1982 he bought the Crowder Building (now Hi-Lites). By this time the owners of the parking lot also asked him if he would buy the parking lot. Again, he said yes. With a good business sense, Arnold now owned the Washington Street side of the block. In 1990 Arnold decided to build a new building at the location and is where the present day Arnold's Jewelry stands.
In spite of the economy, Arnold says: "every year has been a good year for us". He attributes his success to: "simply taking good care of his customers in a low key friendly manner." His penchant for attention to detail and his emphasis on service has branded Arnold's Jewelry as a meaningful and special place in Cleveland County. His wife, Freda, is a fashion coordinator for the store and she's also developed a new form or art, which she calls "cosmetic art". Arnold is very dependent on Freda and Myra Gettys, who he calls his right hand lady and he brags that Myra can "do anything required". Freda says she is his "left hand". Arnold cares very much about his employees and continues to have a meeting with his staff at 8:30 every morning. Arnold's Jewelry legacy, not bad for a farmer boy who liked to pick cotton!