In the late 1980s thru the early 1990s lovely wife and I used to travel to the east coast to visit our son and his family.
Our son had joined the Marines shortly after graduating high school, served his tour of duty and returned home to get his college degree.
After getting his degree he left home again. This time to create his life as a writer. Not a writer of fiction but as a writer of non-fiction i.e. News reporter and such. This career choice led him to live in various locations on the east coast.
Lovely wife and I made an effort to visit him, and eventually his family of a wife and son, once or twice a year.
On returning from one visit we pulled off the interstate at a small town in upstate New York. May have been Rome but I am not 100 percent sure this was the town.
On the main street there were many old buildings with various retail outlets. No tattoo parlors, just old retail outlets and a few restaurants.
We parked the car and entered what could best be described as a dry goods store. A store that brought back memories of my childhood.
The store was well stocked but, the stock was aged as witnessed by the “sun bleached” appearance of many items.
I was looking at some “weathered” children’s socks when an elderly gentleman with a kind smile approached me. I spoke out loud saying, “wow, this is a cool store.” He quickly responded with “You want to buy it?” I laughed and replied “No thanks.”
This man had piqued my interest so I asked him if he had owned this store for his full life.
He replied by telling me, no, as a young man he had gone to Cornell where he met the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He married this beauty shortly after graduating with a degree in retail management.
After receiving this degree he went to work for Macys in New York City. He worked there many years and reached the level of second in command at the New York store before retiring and purchasing this store.
He told me he had made a fair amount of money in the store for the first few years but then a Walmart had opened on the outskirts of town. This eliminated his traffic and he now follows this ritual five days a week. After having breakfast his wife makes him a lunch of sandwich, apple and a cookie. Usually Tuna but occasionally roast beef and provolone. He then comes to his store and sits there waiting for a stray traveler to stop in. This allows him to get out of the house so both his wife and he can get a break. 🙂
He said both he and his wife were getting up in years and if he could sell the store they would buy a place in Florida to spend their remaining years together in a warmer environment.
Lovely wife bought a, worn with age, child’s cap. I thanked him for his time and we went on our way.
Never got back to that store, never found out what happened to the nice old gentleman and his wife but based on the brief conversation I had with him, I know he and his wife went peacefully into the night with warm hearts.