In the good old days when I was the owner of a whole sale produce market there were always some unusual things that popped up.
First of all I employed 25 people, half of them truck drivers for 12 trucks to deliver the produce. Plus the usual cadre to operate that kind of business. For those of you who have read my second book that is available at all Cuyahoga libraries. You may remember my story about Archie McGuire who always claimed to be Maury Feren in technicolor. Sounds funny but he meant it every time he said it. A great story in itself but not the one I want to talk about today. That book is called "Wheeling and Dealing in My World". It may be my best read which includes my War Memories and my early beginnings.
I had one employee who was my gopher who followed me everywhere I went. He didn't drive because he was drunk quite a bit but a very loyal employee otherwise.
Henry was black, 5'7 about 140lbs, with a trim body. He was quite physically fit, moved rapidly and had strong Negro features. Nothing exceptional, but I would say run of the mill. Henry dressed neatly, wore clean clothes every day, never looked unkempt. He was always dressed well enough for me to take him anywhere. He served me well and in every instance that I needed him, he never disagreed and always followed through as was needed.
Here is when it all happened. I had a small produce order to deliver on West 9th street to an office on the way home. I gave Henry the package and waited for him outside of that office. It was about 4:00 late after noon. The streets were empty so were the sidewalks I don't know exactly why.
Henry walked out of the office having delivered the package and then out of the blue he was stuck to the sidewalk. Yes he was stuck actually stuck and he seemed to be in a trance. I called his name Henry, Henry wake up, wake up!! He didn't move. He was stuck to the sidewalk literally and still in a trance. He seemed not to hear me, beside the fact that he was immobile.
I shook him again and again. And it became scary. I never saw anything like it before. I pushed him, shoved him, even yelled at him to no avail. I felt a sick feeling go through me. I could not figure out what had happened. I even thought for a moment that maybe I had done him some harm.
This was no laughing matter. Henry was stuck there for at least 30 minutes maybe 45. I was scared out of my wits, because I didn't know what to do. Henry remained motionless, trans-like never responding to anything I said or did. I was at an impasse. I did not know whom I could call.
Fortunately, for me the siege ended. Henry awoke just as if he had come out of a trance or deep sleep. When I talked to him he was totally unaware of what had occurred. It was a picture I will never forget. Henry standing there glued to the sidewalk and embodied both in mind and body. Did anything like that ever happen to anyone out there?
I have never found out what they call that in medical circles. I did find out it was not uncommon. However, I have forgot its medical name. Whatever they call it I don't ever want to be a part of an experience like that again. It was too scary.
Oh, I have had some other unusual experiences but nothing like that. A part of my business was to distribute frozen turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas to factories in the 50's and 60's when factories were thriving. Everyone would like their employees to get their turkeys on Wednesday the day before the holiday.
So we would rent a giant Hertz truck loading it with every order that it could hold. It would hold anywhere between 300-400 turkeys loaded. Then we would back it into our dock ready to go the night before. Low and behold when I came to work on delivery day the Hertz truck was gone with all of the turkeys. You talk about a dilemma. It was panic. There was no way that I could replace those turkeys in time for delivery.
You may not know this but we purchased these turkeys in August because of the great demand for the 10-12lb size. It was a bad situation but I lived through it. One of my best employee drove off with the entire load since he had a key.
The next bad experience entailed my gift-ware had been selected for our top of the line fruit baskets. These had been stored in a special warehouse. Unfortunately, when I happened to go to that warehouse to check my stock I notice my main gifts were depleted. I checked around only to find that they were gone. This happened a couple of weeks before Christmas. I had no way of replacing them in time for shipment because they were purchased in August. What did I do?
All I do remember is that I had to prosecute this best worker who had absconded the gifts. He had the keys to the warehouse, came in at night and loaded up his vehicle. It surly was a disappointment. He seemed to be so true and honest for so many weeks before this happened.
I can finish off with my story when I was working with people who had be in prison with the Lutheran Church on West 25th and Franklin St. Our object was to place these people in jobs that they could handle. I was able to place one nice young man in an office at Friendly In Settlement. So what did he do? He took off with all of the office machines at night. Another disappointment but that is how it goes sometime.
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Cleveland Seniors columns