One thing about retirement . . . it gives you more chances
to meet up with family. Besides the
Tuesdays with Luke, my youngest grandson, within the past couple weeks I was
able to spend some time with my father and, separately, with my youngest son
Scott both of whom live quite far away.
But far isn’t as far when you have time, which is what you get when you
Scott and I hung out in St. Louis where his bride-to-be’s
family was throwing her a shower. My
wife Wendy was among the invited guests.
With two hours to kill, I suggested that Scott and I go to a grocery store
as Wendy was wondering whether St. Louis might be a place to pick up scrapple,
a regional delicacy usually found in the Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Schnuck’s grocery was within walking distance so Scott and I
headed there. Though we didn’t see
scrapple on the shelves, Scott thought we should ask to be sure. One clerk didn’t know so she referred us to
the butcher, who did seem older and more knowledgeable.
“Scrapple?” he said.
“Never heard of it.” And the look
he gave made me feel like I was asking for some delicacy from the planet
Pluto. A customer nearby suggested we
try this German meat market a couple blocks down, so we walked there as well.
“Want a beer?” the meat counter clerk at G&W Sausage
Company asked us while we carefully browsed the display cases. Scott and I smiled, thinking it was his way
of prodding us to be quicker. But turns
out he was serious, handing another customer a Busch beer. Wow!
That doesn’t happen where I live.
Turns out though that he didn’t have scrapple either however. Still it was fun hanging out just me and
Scott, something I can’t do often since he works in Washington DC.
Less than a week later I was heading up north, this time
with my dad, to open up our cabin at Hubbard Lake for the season. Along the way he told me about his day
working at the Eastern Market In Detroit.
I know about the Eastern Market, which has operated for over 150 years
and comprises food and specialty businesses that attract tens of thousands of
customers each week.
But I had no idea that my dad had ever been to the Eastern
Market let alone worked there. He did so
hauling potatoes for a farmer near Bay City, 100-pound sacks of potatoes which
were in turn sold, I gather, to small grocers in southeast Michigan. It was 1945 and he was 15 at the time. Heck, I don’t think I could haul a 100-pound
sack of potatoes when I was 25.
Dad described the open market atmosphere and the colorful
characters that bought and sold wares, whether it was the shrewd buyer who cut
open potatoes to find flaws he could use to negotiate a cheaper price (didn’t
work—the price stayed the same and they bought anyway) to an apple-seller whose
boisterous self-promoting resulted in quicker sales. Then she came over to help sell the potatoes
my dad’s farm still on hand.
That was fun listening to stories about the old days. Then later at the cabin dad had a little fun
of his own. I was next door at my
sister’s cabin, chatting with Susan and her husband Jeff. Then Jeff looked out the window and said,
“Your dad’s peeling that orange that was in our driveway.”
That upset my sister who told me that orange had been left
by the side of the road for God knows what reason. When my dad came into the cabin, he had the
orange fully peeled so my sister warned him against eating it, telling him who
knows what had happened to it lying out in the open. My dad said it seemed okay and took a bite.
Turns out, he was having a joke at our expense. The orange wasn’t the cast-off in the
driveway; he was just standing in the driveway there peeling a different orange
he had brought up north in his cooler.
Finally, when we watched grandson Luke this week, I thought
he should have some playtime fun, so we drove several miles to a combination
coffeehouse/playspace where he could run, climb and play on an indoor gym. He had so much fun, in fact, that he lost
track of time. Well, at two he doesn’t
have to keep track of time. But Wendy
and I did since his dad picks him up at our house.
We were late getting back to our house, only a few minutes
late. But in those few minutes Luke’s
dad, my son Greg, had already tried Wendy’s cell phone three times, apparently
worried where we were. Unfortunately,
Wendy can’t always hear her cell phone and this was one of those times.
Just goes to show that sometimes you can have too much family
fun. At least Greg probably thinks so.