Hey Leonard, will you let me walk with you?

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Dear Editor,

Hi Leonard. As I was walking with you up Main Street last week to the Red Owl store, the first thing I noticed was my 1946 Ford Club Coupe parked in front of  the store. I don’t recall if I was grocery shopping or maybe in Kimports.

You mentioned that you once worked for Red Owl.  I also worked there one school year, my sophomore year in 1943. I worked from 3:30 til 5:30 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I could have also worked Wednesday, but Wednesday night I folded news papers at News Letter Journal. The Journal was  located at that time in the building that now houses Pat Crow‘s office. I “still check my nails for ink.”

As I lived in the country I went home on weekends, but at times due to weather or some other reason I stayed in town. When this happened I worked at the store on Saturday doing whatever needed done— locating items for customers that they could not find, bagging groceries and pushing those fancy carts with the items out to  shoppers cars and help load. My evening job was usually stocking shelves and sweeping floor. There were others working doing the same as I was, but I was the one that ended with the broom.

The store manager at the time was a lady by the name of  Leatha Phoenix. She was very personable and was liked. One Saturday when I was working, an elderly Amish couple came to the store. That was one of only two Amish couples living in the area. People were not used to seeing  people that looked different as to the way they dressed and only had a horse and buggy for transportation. I also felt that way, so I did not know how to accept them. The manager asked me to help them shop.  The people’s name was Stemburg and they lived out beyond the airport.  They were of the “old” Amish of German origin and talked in German.

I followed them around to see if I was needed, but I was told no. The lady could speak so I could understand her a bit. Items on the shelf were each priced and as the Missus picked one, Mr. Stemburg had a tablet and wrote down the item and the price. When they started to check out, the cashier did not have a scanner, so checkout was poke a button and pull a handle. Not as fast as Wal-Mart. They had a piled up load of items and it took many minutes to check out. When finished, Mr. Stemburg compared the sales slip with his figures and if they did not add up to the same, check out started over.

Everything was okay, so I wheeled the cart out the door and asked where their car was parked. The lady said it was by the railroad depot. Yes, that was where it was— the horse tied to a tree. The sidewalk only went as far as the railroad. I offered to carry items to their buggy, but Mr. said no, as I might scare the horse. I waited on them one more time while working there and when they came they asked for me to help them. I always wondered who helped them later.

Well Leonard, this takes care of Red Owl.  May I walk with you as we walk on up Main Street?

—Jack Holwell

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