Last week, I brought you part one of a column on my experience working at the Sivills Brothers Grocery store back in the late 70s and early 80s. Today, I will bring you part two.
There is no way that I can portray in mere words here what the brothers Scott and Buddy did for our community back then. From providing employment for our citizens, helping the needy, sponsoring youth athletic teams and supporting the high school athletic teams. My intent is to just make you smile by telling you how much fun us teens of the 70s had working there. So here goes.
The Stock Truck
One of the real manual labor jobs at the store was unloading the stock truck. Sometimes, it would get there way before the store opened. Some of us would meet up there to unload it into the back storage room. Being a high school athlete, I always looked at that as training.
Remember when you had to return your used soft drink bottles? That is a long-gone tradition now. Nearly every customer would bring in empty bottles when they visited the store. If they bought 12 new bottles of Coke, then they would return 12 empties. Us stock boys would have to stack the bottles up in cases in the stock room. Sometimes, the stack of cases of bottles would reach well over ones head. I will never forget when my OCD nature kicked in once. As I was stacking eh cases of bottles, I noticed someone had left one empty space in the bottom case. Well, I just couldn’t let that go. I tried to pry the cases up so I could correct the injustice. Yeah, you know it. It was like the domino theory. The entire stack of bottles fell and took others in its wake. The crash reverberated across the isles of the store. Soon, Buddy cane in, took one look and simply said, “Well clean it up.” There may still be remnants of that glass there today.
It was a special day when Buddy started letting me run the cash register. He gave me a quick lesson and I hit the ground running. Now remember back that groceries, like everything else, didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I made it fine until the early afternoon. I guess fatigue must have set in. A woman came through my cash register with a half-loaded cart. I ran up everything. Then I looked at the total on my register. My heart did a flip bit I remained calm, looked at the lady and said, Ma’am, that will be $863.” Obviously, I had over-charged her for some item. I think she had an $800 tomato in her buggy. After she came to, we had a good laugh at that one.
Woman In A Hurry
Any job can be dangerous, and I am living proof of that. I was putting groceries into the back seat of a woman’s car one hot summer afternoon. I had two sacks in and two still to go. As I was leaning into the car putting the third sack in, the woman started backing up. I was half in the car and half out. She sort of pushed me and the grocery cart back about 10 feet before I got her stopped. Outside of a some-scraped knee and a couple broken eggs, everything checked out fine.
The Meat Men vs. The Coke and Pepsi Men
My co-worker Bill Fort and I always had something going on. We were amazed at how tough the men working on the meat truck were. They would sling sides of beef over their shoulders and haul them in to the meat department in the store. It was a manly feat. Well, the Coke man, who I believe was Tony Ricks, was an ex-football player. The hard-working Pepsi man, if I am correct, was Homer Farris. Bill and I called Homer “Slim Pickens.” Even though they worked their butts off and handled heavy bottles all day, we told them they were not half as tough as the meat men. We challenged them to see if they could carry in a side of beef like the meat guys. Can you believe a couple of young guys like Bill and I could pull that off? One day, the meat truck pulls up and is met by Tony and Homer in their Coke and Pepsi uniforms. They both grab a side of beef, sling it over their shoulder and take it back to Scott in the meat department. Bill and I laughed until our sides split.
Nazareth Came by
Nazareth was a rock group back in the day. One day, I looked up from by stocking the shelves and a tour bus full of long-haired musicians came in the store. It was Nazareth. Their hit song “Love Hurts” just happened to be topping the charts at the time of their visit. They were an interesting looking group to say the least.
Welcome To Cadiz, Clem
I was working at the cash register at 6 a.m. one morning when an African American man pulled up in front of the store. The only people there were Buddy and I. Buddy was in the back. The man asked if we sold Courier Journals. I told him we didn’t but that he could have mine. As he borrowed it to look at, I began to study him. Then I said to him, “Aren’t you Clem Haskins, the pro basketball player?” He said yes, and I took him back to meet Buddy, who was one of my coaches. A couple of years later, Clem would retire from the pros and begin coaching at Western Kentucky University. That was the same time that I enrolled at Western. I approached Clem one day and asked him if he remembered our meeting at Sivills Grocery. He did and he was so gracious for me giving him the paper and introducing him to Buddy. He found out that I wanted to be a coach. He followed through by inviting me to work all his summer camps, got me a try-out at Campbellsville, got me my first coaching job as grad assistant for Western’s men’s basketball team. I made more contacts than you Can ever imagine through Clem Haskins and a simple meeting at a grocery store.
Jack Frost and The Birds and The Bees
There was always a host of characters that came through the doors of the store. Jack Frost Turner just happened to be one of them. I still smile when I think about the time we waddled over to the frozen food isle and gave me his own humorous and personalized version of the birds and the bees.
Those are just some of the stories I have from my summers at Sivills Brothers. To this day, I am thankful for my job there and my relationship with both Scott and Buddy. I hope I brought back a few memories to all of you that read this series. Let me hear from you.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.