Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 12th

February 12th, 1973: Since there was no school today, I helped out at the store. Seemed like any other day, really. My teacher, Mr. Willard, came in, and he and dad talked for awhile. I just have a feeling that everything is going to be o.k.

February 12th, 2013: I think I mentioned. I worked at the store some Saturdays, after school, or during the summer. I can't say I wasn't spoiled, because I was. In the end, I usually got what I wanted. Not always, however. And it wasn't just handed to me. I worked to learn to save for what I wanted, and the value of a dollar.

I was there on this Monday. Must have been Lincoln's birthday. I kept logs (see photo) of the hours I worked. I'm not sure of the date of this log. But it appears I was receiving twenty five cents an hour.

If I helped open the store, it was a real treat. Dad would roust me from bed, I'd watch him splash cold water on his face to wake himself up, and do the same to myself. Then, we'd eat breakfast at The Bowl around 6:30, before opening the store at 7 a.m. It seemed logical to me that, if I was up and with him, I was on "store time." I was putting myself on the clock at 6:30, for breakfast. It didn't take dad too long to see what I was up to. "No, boy. It doesn't work that way," he told me. But I remember him chucking and telling me, "But I think you're going to make it." He was not a crooked guy. But I guess he liked my creative method of time keeping.

One of my store time sheets
My responsibilities included waiting on customers, organizing the warehouse, and helping unload the trucks as they brought freight in once a week.

The store was the "real deal." Oiled, hardwood floors. All the hardware items you can imagine. And quality merchandise for the day. Black and Decker, Corning, Estwing, Rubbermaid... Dad took a lot of pride in the place. And he was fortunate to have two employees who were awesome. Donald "Peachy" Foreman, and Pat Orr. Wilbur Bartlett was a part time worker. And at one time, Bob Hyde replaced Peachy when he moved away for awhile. That's it. There was no turnover. It was a fantastic crew. Pat added the "woman's touch" but knew her stuff. Peachy was the guy who could invent, build, or fix anything.

This was during a time when many merchants displayed their wares on the sidewalks, in front of their businesses. At the end of the day, some of ours went inside the front door. But the larger stuff had to be pushed down the alley and into the the warehouse. When I was much younger, if I was lucky, and Peachy willing, I could catch a ride in a wheelbarrow down the alley. I loved it!

Right now, I can close my eyes and remember every nook and cranny of that place. Where all the merchandise was located. There were two sides. The original, south side. And the north side. Dad purchased that building when George Ed McGann built a new grocery store. We knocked a hole in the wall and nearly doubled the display area. I think this would have been 1962 or early 63'. Grandpa didn't live to see it.

They say the sense of smell is one of the most powerful. A hardware store has a distinct one. A real mixture. Of them all, I can smell the leather of the Yankee Doodle work gloves, and the rubber of the garden hose area.

Mr. Willard, Dale Willard, happened to be my social studies teacher at the time. A great teacher, and a buddy of dads. He came in to chat with dad. The front door of the store fed to an open area. There were three aisles to walk. Left, middle, and right. Along the right aisle, not far from the front, were clothes hampers. Dad and Mr. Willard sat there on them and talked. About things in general. And about dad's situation. I remember going about my work, but hovering nearby them when I wasn't with a customer. I could hear parts of their conversation. Dad's tone and words seemed matter of fact and, "I'll deal with it."

A few keepsakes from the store

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