5 Comments

An Old Man and a Little Girl

Growing up, I lived next to Woodsy’s, a corner store and deli. The owner of the store, Dixie, was an elderly man who suffered from severe arthritis, so much so that the kids in the neighborhood referred to his hands as claws (fortunately, not to his face).

Dixie gave me my first job at the age of 9. He had an ice machine in his store, and he would bag the ice to sell it. With the toll the arthritis had taken on his hands, he needed some help bagging because he couldn’t maneuver the twist tie. I was thrilled when he offered me the job – for a whole 50 cents an hour.

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On my first day, Dixie taught me the secret of the twist tie. “Pinch and twist, Kerri. Pinch and twist. That’ll get you the best closure.” I remember wanting to do a really good job, and as I closed each bag, I’d repeat the mantra to myself – “Pinch and twist. Pinch and twist.” I had finished about 10 bags when he first came to check on me. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “You’re doing a great job! You’ve gotten a lot done. Now, let’s check out the tying job.” I remember feeling a moment of trepidation. “Oh, I hope I did it right,” I thought. “Kerri, I must say, “ Dixie continued, “this is some of the best pinching and twisting I’ve seen in a long time! I’m sure lucky to have you helping me.”

Now, was it really the best pinching and twisting he had seen? Surely not, as I saw him re-securing some bags as he put them in the ice chest for sale, but his appreciation and reassurance made me want to do an even better job for him. It warmed my heart to help him, and he made me feel significant and seen every time I was with him.

At the end of my “shift”, which was always as long or as short as I liked, he’d offer me my pay right from the register, or I had the option of taking home some sweets for payment. I remember almost always opting for the sweet reward, and without fail, I’d choose a soda (often either Mountain Dew, orange soda, or grape soda) and Suzy Q’s; he’d sometimes throw in a candy bar, too for good measure. Come to think of it, I’ve read that we often crave certain foods in an attempt to relive a fond memory or time from our past where we ate that food. A-ha! So, it’s not the Suzy Q’s I’m craving as an adult; it’s the special time with Dixie. 🙂

I love to think about the people who came into my life as a child and made a lasting impression, whether it was my 8th grade English teacher (aptly named Mr. Devine) who helped me fall in love with the power of words through his Parts of Speech songs, or my best friend from grammar school, Amy Consigli, who you could always count on for a warm greeting and a friendly smile. And dear, sweet Dixie – one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. Although he traveled quite a difficult road in his life, he still managed to make this little girl feel pretty special.

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5 comments on “An Old Man and a Little Girl

  1. It wasn’t that much farther to go to Woodsy’s than Lampman’s or Quality Market for me. To go into Lampman’s with a dollar and some change to get one hundred and seven Swedish fish… Oh who wants to count out that many, Unless it was John himself, or maybe Mrs.Gay. But we did. We counted when we got home and see how, if any, ‘extra’ we got. We I’m referring to would be myself and my best friend and partner in crime for many years, whom I won’t name because although I am many miles from Medway, he is only about two hours away. To keep some aninimity, I’ll just call him Ceth Summings. Well, Ceth figured out that by going to Woodsy’s, Dixie would REALLY not count and he claimed that it was worth the extra walk. After a few trips down there, I couldn’t be convinced to go back down that end of High St. The walk from the horses past Awl St. to Woodsey’s made me more uneasy than to have to put your hand on the hand on the door of the tomb at Evergreen cemetery. Dixie wasn’t scary to me, I knew enough adults that knew him and I knew his hands were not claws. His driving on the other hand…that was scary.

    Not long after that, Ted started working at the other place, there really wasn’t any way to beat 100 Swedish fish and a ‘swamp’ Slush Puppy AND not have to walk past Awl St.

  2. Kerri, I had only ever been to Woodsy’s with you, so I guess I was never afraid of Dixie like some of the neighborhood kids. Thanks for reminding me of that time and place. 🙂

  3. KERRI
    JUST READ YOU CHEEKY CHICKEN
    GREAT TIMING I CALLED YOUR MOTHER AT 4:30 AND SAID
    WHO AND WHAT
    WHO IS ME AND THE WHAT IS WHERE DO WE GO FOR DINNER
    SHE HAS BEEN WORKING AT TOWNHALL FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS NOW AND I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON SELLING LUCILLE’S HOME
    SO WE HAVE BEEN PASSING IN THE NIGHT
    YOUR STORY WAS THE RIGHT THING FOR ME TONIGHT
    THE MEAL SOUNDS JUST LIKE SOMETHING I WOULD LIKE

  4. Kerri,
    I don’t know if I tell you often enough how much I love your writing! Not only do I love the stories you weave but also how it brings up memories for me in some similiar fashion. Please keep it up you have a great gift!
    Love,
    Trisha

    P.S. I love Harry Connick Jr. too, if you don’t have his Christmas album you need to get it!

  5. I’m not even sure if you know I read your blog… But I do… And I smiled as I read this. I remember Woodsy’s and going in there with you for candy for weekend sleepovers… I remember how Amy was one of the few people who almost never had a bad thing to say about anyone and who almost always could make you feel better. (I remember being SO happy that she was voted Prom Queen, because I couldn’t think of a better person to be treated like a princess!) And I will always remember Mr. Devine (excuse me, DR. Devine – he actually got his Doctorate when we were in 8th grade). He made such an impact that I still remember EVERY word of his Parts of Speech Jingle. He was a rare and special person.

    I love reading your blogs. Thank you so much for all of your insight and introspection.

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