Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Tuna Fish Paradise

We had three grocery stores in my town. If you didn't like the price of a can of tuna fish at one you could go to the next one. It was a tuna fish paradise.

One of those stores was where I got my first real job besides mowing grass and picking apples. I bagged groceries and carried them out to peoples' cars and when there were no customers I helped Jim stock the shelves and sweep the floor and take the trash out.

Jim was in high school. I was in junior high and didn't have my driver's license yet but Jim had a 1961 Dodge and sometimes gave me a ride home. The Dodge was a big car but had a six cylinder engine.

 "It's three quarters of a V8," Jim said and floored it until he was going way over the 25 mile an hour speed limit on my street.

I was afraid someone might see but Jim was older than I was and was over me at the store. It was 1966. I worked at the store the summer between 7th and 8th grade and during 8th grade until basketball started.

When Jim and I swept the floor it was a big operation. Jim started at one end of the store and I started at the other and we'd meet in the middle. We each had a cardboard box with a little of that red stuff that collects the dust like the janitors used at the school that you sprinkle on the floor and then sweep up along with the dirt and we had big wide dust mop brooms like the janitors had.
One of Jim's aisles had the Archway cookies in it and when Jim was sweeping by the Archway cookies he put a package of cookies in his cardboard box and went straight to the back room and down the rows of boxes where all the groceries were stored and hid the cookies between two boxes and then came back and started sweeping again. After we finished sweeping and were doing other things he'd give me a signal and I had to meet him in the back room where the cookies were stashed. I had to wait until he got there but unless someone walked past the rows of boxes they wouldn't have seen you. Jim would finally get there with two warm cans of creme soda pop and we'd stand there between the rows of boxes and eat the package of cookies and drink our warm creme sodas.

What always got me about that was that Jim was quiet in school, one of the most shy people in school, and I used to wonder what became of Jim, and Carol, the checkout woman who the other checkout woman, Charlotte, said was sleeping with the owner and that's why she got more hours than her.

Those 1961 Dodges were strange looking cars made during a time of big fins. The 61 Cadillac had fins that were taller than I was.

It was the 1960s and things were changing. Things are always changing. Some people say don't buy tuna fish now and some people say it's OK.

I don't steal things any more. It's not right, but that's not really why.


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  2. Reminds me of my banana creme pie adventure:

  3. Good story. It hits close to home. I worked in one of St. Paul first "supermarkets" for three years in high school. Our high school (Harding) was so crowded they split the day in half. Juniors and seniors from 7 to 12. Fresh and sophomores the afternoon. The for me early practice the off to work from 3 to 9 and all day Saturday. When I was "promoted" to stocking the dairy case etc. I was no longer forced to swipe food as helping the truckers unload into the coolers etc. brought me all the free ice cream I could eat as a reward... Oh and I joined the retail clerks association which converted me into a lifelong member and supporter of unions (later as a teacher)....:)

    1. From someone who tells a good story - thanks Mr T. I seem to recall one or two about the grocery store days.