By Frank J. Buchman
“Farm folks often parked in front of ‘Laura Mae’s’ on Saturday afternoon and evening.”
Somebody reminded that recently, reminiscing years long gone.
Mom was Laura Mae; frequently synonymous for Buchman’s Grocery.
A family business with one-handed-dad Clarence the butcher, Aunt Lu filling phone orders, Frankie carryout-delivery-boy, and always-dedicated-coworkers, Laura Mae greeted everybody coming in the door.
Generally-seeming-loud, always-outgoing-friendly acknowledgement from a broad-toothy, bright-red-lipstick-rimmed grin, shadowed with flamboyant-earrings, was welcome of the cologne-accented, robust, white-aproned grocery store operator.
Laura Mae knew everyone, or soon would. Never shy, forever interested in all others.
Growing up with very little material-wise, Mom was ambitious, hardworking, envisioning. Strong affection for the land, but moreover its people.
Riding a horse to school as a student and nine years as a teacher were fond reflections.
Dad’s combine accident forced our parents from the farm into town to operate a tiny café before the grocery store.
Fortunately, most of their farm neighbors and many of the rural community appreciated the down-to-earth, above-and-beyond, friendly-service making business thrive. Such, despite country roots, Mom’s contention: “We wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for the grocery store and all of our friendly customers.”
Love for the grocery business was surpassed only by Laura Mae’s love for common-folk, customers, employees, and family.
In 35 years at the grocery store checkout, Laura Mae helped lots of people. Everybody was Laura Mae’s heartfelt friend, despite some sadly misunderstanding her open-handed forthrightness.
When anybody’s loved one passed, Mom was the first offering food and sympathy.
Whoever lifted a hand, Laura Mae reciprocated. Nickel for youth carryout, pack of cigarettes for snow scooper, even bologna for the bum, and always a free cup of coffee and cookies for everyone.
The snotty-nosed, dirty-fingered, shirtless-kids who’d steal a pop bottle from the unlocked-behind-the-store warehouse to redeem for two-cents, Laura Mae set straight with a penny candy, and swat out the door.
Foremost were employees. From grade-schoolers, through married-moms, dads, and in-between, they didn’t just work for Laura Mae. Each was family, appreciatively-treated as such.
Laura Mae’s customers never went hungry. Upon early passing, incomprehensible unpaid-charge-accounts were still owed the store, which destroying-fire closed years earlier.
Truly, Mom, best remembered as Laura Mae, was the most generous ever.
Reminds us of Proverbs 11:25: “The generous shall be enriched. One who helps another reaps generosity shown.”