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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

One summer in the mid-sixties the Hippies had a rendezvous in Boulder, Colorado. Most of them hitchhiked through Himni on their way from California. There wasn’t a male in town who had hair over his ears so to us they were quite a site. Most folks just gawked, a few mothers kept their kids indoors, but life didn’t change all that much.

Butch Farley and his buddies rolled a few of them, or so we heard. They claimed to have even taken a load of Hippies into the back of Butch’s pickup truck ostensibly to convey them on towards Colorado. Instead they took them up on Pine Top and impolitely dropped them off in the middle of nowhere. Butch loved the reputation, but I don’t really know if he ever did half the stuff his minions bragged about.I was working at the local IGA that summer. My first town job. We had the usual crew; a few sweet old ladies in the bakery, a trio of young mothers running the check stands, a bunch of high school kids bagging groceries and stocking shelves. We had an ambitious out-of-towner for a manager who’s name was Lester Moore. A smooth ladies man in the meat department called Tuff. And we had a scrawney little manager wannabe running the produce department. His name was Mark Wilson, who was also from out of town.

Mark was always having problems. I think his ambition far outstripped his brains, but he was a nice kid and we all liked him. One day, for example, we called him to the front to help check groceries. He never came. We called again with the same results. When the rush was over; Les sent me over to the Pine Top Cafe’ to see if he was sitting in the coffee shop. Nope. We made a cursory search of the store with no results. We even called his house to see if he’d gone home for some reason. No luck, but his wife Leslie, hurried down to help with the search. They’d been married just a few months.I personally had checked the produce cooler a couple of times. The light switch was on the outside of the door. Both times the light was off. On my third trip around I looked in the cooler again, nothing. Just as the door was closing, though, I heard something and opened the door and turned on the light. A wall of lettuce boxes had collapsed and fallen on top of poor Mark. He’d been there under the pile in that cooler for over three hours. He was shivering uncontrollably and Leslie took him home for the rest of the day.



Another time we had a late night stocking project. Us kids went home at midnight and Les and Mark stayed behind. When we got to the store in the morning it was locked up. We rattled the door and Nellie from the bakery, who had been inside for hours making bread and doughnuts and stuff, let us in. It was dark up in the office so Sue Connor, the head checker made me go
up with her. There we found Les and Mark passed out after polishing off a bottle of Jack Daniels. As in the rest of Utah, a bottle Jack Daniels isn’t available in a grocery store and I had never even seen one. Mark had fallen asleep with his neck propped between two coke bottles in a 24 bottle crate. We let them sleep. When they finally came down about eleven, Mark couldn’t hold his head up and he stayed that way for about a week.One Friday morning we got this huge shipment of cantaloupes. Les was livid. We’d never sell that many in a million years. Desperate to prove him wrong before the cants spoiled, Mark put on his thinking cap. Where he got his stroke of genius we’ll never know.

Rarely, had the hippies actually stopped in the store, but on this particular day they were swarming the place. Oh, they bought the usual stuff and tried to look casual but it soon became apparent that it was cantaloupes they were after. Every sale included several! By Saturday night they were almost gone! We had nearly sold the entire stock in two days!

Now, in those days the most common advertising method in the grocery business was the painted sign. Poster paint on butcher paper was the medium. These were usually stapled on a wooden “A” frame out on the sidewalk for the passing traffic to see. It was two days before anyone in the store noticed what Mark had done. There on an ordinary “A” frame was this message. “NOTICE – IT HAS COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DRYING THE RINDS OF OUR CATELOUPES AND SMOKING THEM – WE ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO SELL OUR MELLONS FOR ANY OTHER THAN THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE!”

Sometimes we get so desperate to find happiness, we’ll try anything.

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I had to quit my job at the IGA in order to attend Boy’s State. I still find it hard to believe they wouldn’t work with me. Maybe they were just looking for an excuse to get rid of me, who knows?

When I got back from Boy’s State I took a job hauling mud in the oil patch for an outfit called Baroid. I didn’t stay there long because it was hard backbreaking work. Throwing a whole semi-trailer load of 100 pound stacks of drilling mud was no picnic. It paid well so I stayed longer than I would have liked. Now-a-days the mud comes either in a bulk tanker or loaded on pallets to be unloaded with a forklift. In those days labor was cheaper than equipment.

The fellow who drove the truck and also threw sacks of mud was named Rooney Bloom. He was a salty old character, who’d lived a pretty tough life, by the looks of him. He was probably in his mid-forties, but back then I had him pegged for mid-sixties. He drank and smoked and to my knowledge never darkened the door of a church. He no longer had a wife and didn’t have much to do with his kids either. Rooney’s whole life was work. He loved it. He did little else. Day in and day out he showed up, put in long hours, didn’t complain and hummed a quiet little non-descript tune all the while.

I can’t say we became buddies or anything. He never said much. I’d try to start a conversation on the long drive out to some remote well location, but I always failed. He didn’t seem much interested in hearing me rattle on about nothing, so I took to napping on the road. I was always tired so it all worked out.

One Monday morning I showed up and found Rooney hadn’t come. Somebody else drove the truck. He told me Rooney had to go to the hospital for some surgery. You didn’t ask what kind of surgery in those days. I still have no idea what was wrong.

After a couple of weeks Rooney was back. He looked a little peeked, but seemed ready and eager to get back on the job. We drove out to Natural Buttes and rumbled through clouds of dust to a location overlooking the White River. After we unloaded the mud, Rooney pulled the rig into the shade of some cottonwoods down by the river so we could cool off over lunch. I asked him, “Did they treat you good?”

“Who”

“The folks at the hospital.”

“Yea!”

“What was it like?

“Pretty good actually!”

“Pretty good? What do you mean?”

“Them pretty nurses gave me a sponge bath every day!”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yup, they’d bring in soap and water and lotion. Then they’d uncover me down as far as possible and wash me all up. It felt so good.”

“I’ll bet,” I replied.

“Then , they’d pull the blankets back up, nice and snug and go down by my feet and uncover me up as far as possible and wash my feet and legs. Oooh, that felt good…
Then, I’ll be derned if they didn’t wash Old Possible TOO!”

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