Joseph’s story is part of an ongoing collaboration between Love What Matters and StoryWorth, an online service that makes writing your loved one’s memoir (or your own) as easy as writing an email. Click here to learn more about StoryWorth and begin capturing your loved one’s lifetime of memories to cherish forever.
What was your first boss like?
“My first boss was Harry Hansen Sr. when I worked at the First National Grocery Store when I turned 16. I was young, new to the workforce. I was a stockboy. The job was, you got the canned goods and you pushed them down in the shoot to restock the shelves. This was done from the back room. Food came from up top — people in front would say what they needed. All the soups, canned vegetables were in the back. I would go back to the supply area and what needed refilling, I would refill those areas.
Then, every so often, people working on the registers yelled, ‘Going out!’ That meant you had to come from the back and take a customer’s bags out to the parking lot. That was my job. There weren’t many young people working there at the time. Sottero Denisca was my immediate boss, not Harry. He called me Pebbles. He’d yell out, ‘GOING OUT, Pebbles!’ He was just a great guy, and we used to raise hell.
At the time, First National was a good size, probably about the size of the old A and P in Taftville.
There were a lot of stores downtown, and twelve or fifteen restaurants. Most of the stores were more specialty-based, and you would go to different stores for different things, unlike the superstores we have today.
I worked at First National because I really didn’t like the diner. Working at the diner, your clothes always ended up smelling of food, and it just wasn’t for me.
Overall, stocking shelves at First National was a good job. I made some money. People were pleasant. Sometimes the ladies whose bags I carried would tip me a dime or a quarter. I didn’t deliver to houses, just to people’s cars. The parking lot was down in the back of First National, which at that time was on the same side of the street as Otis Library is now. You went across the tracks and there was a little parking lot there. It was probably about the same distance as it would be to go from the new room in my house now to just across to the other side of Browning Road.
I would say Harry was fair. The thing is, sometimes when I went out to bring groceries to a customer’s car, I would also go to the Silver Rail and have a beer. The Silver Rail was located on one of the side streets off of Main Street. I used to stand at the end of the bar, so I had a full vantage point to see who might be coming in. I was 16 and they were serving me beer!
Eventually, Harry accused me of taking too long to get back to the store after bringing bags down to the parking lot. Since I had occasionally been hanging out at the Silver Rail, I have to agree that his assessment wasn’t unfair. Also, sometimes if I didn’t go to school, which was pretty often, I didn’t go to work, so Harry was upset about that. That was my fault. Harry sat me down and fired me for missing too much work and for taking too long to get back from deliveries. I just said, ‘Fine, I don’t like the job anyway.’
Later, I got my job back because my dad told Harry, ‘Come on, Harry, cut the you-know-what. If you don’t take him back, I’m not going to take the split 100-pound bags of flour and sugar and rice that I always take off your hands.’ (He wouldn’t have been able to sell them elsewhere because they had split open in transit.) My dad told Harry if he didn’t take me back, Frank Markey at the A and P would like to supply his goods to the diner. Harry said okay and brought me back, but I only stayed a short time because I was playing sports and I had to go to practice every day, so I didn’t want to work anymore anyway.
Overall, Harry was justified in what he did. I would have done the same.”
This article was created in partnership with StoryWorth and contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
Read more from Joseph:
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.