I may have thrown some of you a curve last Monday or Tuesday evening, so perhaps a bit of background is in order.
The most recent chapter of what even I see as an unlikely story is that your faithful scribe has, in post retirement from the new biz, embarked on a new/very old career at Grand Central Foods. I went to work at 5 p.m. Monday for my first shift as the store’s new-old sacker/carry out/restroom scrubber and whatever other duties you as a customer or my fellow worker bees require of me.
If this seems entirely unlikely and out of the blue to you I completely understand because you have known me only as that big kinda funny looking newspaper guy with the camera for more than a dozen years.
I’d wager precious few among you are aware I am actually a meat cutter/produce trimmer/grocery bagger masquerading as a managing editor/photographer/passable wordsmith.
It was by utter fluke that I became a community newspaper journalist at age 40. How I somehow fooled everybody (including you) well enough to make a decent living at it these past 30 years is a whole other miracle.
The truth is that up to age 40 I was born into, immersed in and consumed by the grocery trade.
Nearly as soon as I was out of three-cornered drawers and could stand upright you would find me standing on an upside-down milk crate stocking shelves, slicing lunch meat, bagging and toting groceries. It was paper only back then because plastics were still decades from inflicting themselves upon every aspect of daily life like they do today.
Under Dad’s tutelage meat cutting began so early in life I was respectable by the time I graduated high school at Genoa in 1967. When you drive down main street look on the south side where you will still find our oval IGA sign suspended above the sidewalk.
My first real job outside the family business was as a meat cutter at Safeway in Columbus.
As the years passed I was meat manager at Wittigs’ IGA in Broken Bow for a number of years and later as a member of the 12-man saw and slice crew at Skagway in Grand Island at Five Points.
Good Wife Norma, my parents and I owned and operated two IGA stores ourselves, the first in St. Edward just after we married in 1970. The second was in Lexington where for 10 years we labored long and hard in the building that now houses the local senior center.
Leap forward with me now to July 2019 when, six months after retirement from daily usefulness at the YNT, I increasingly find the pace of life a bit too sedentary to suit either my personality or physical well-being. In many ways life went from a hundred miles an hour to hermit overnight. Talk about slamming on the brakes.
Call it weird, but on the shady side of the mountain at age 70, sitting home in my recliner buried under GWN’s pod of three wiener dogs while she takes blessed relief at work, I found myself thinking more and more about how fun, even poetic, it might be to go back in time and pull the curtain down on this life where it began; sacking groceries, bantering with customers and teasing kids at the end of a grocery store check stand.
There you have it, an encapsulated version of why you might look up to find these old bones ‘bagging you up’ after 5 on Monday and Tuesday nights. If by some miracle you actually want Ole’ Mose to be your carryout boy all you have to do is load that basket plumb to the top.
Make you a deal: Do that after 5 on Monday or Tuesday and I’ll come a runnin’.