One summer I helped my dad at the Co-op. His bookkeeper Ruby was gone for a month. I think she was recuperating after surgery and she couldn’t work.
So dad asked me to come down and take her place until she could come back to work. I thought; how hard could it be since I had just taken accounting that year. It couldn’t be much different than doing the accounting at school. Right?
The filling station was on the west side of the building and was the original part of the Co-op. They had added on the farm supply and the office later. The station sat on the east corner of Main and north of Highway 54.
The station was small and had the men’s restroom inside in the back corner to the right of the small counter. The women’s restroom was outside on the west side of the building. What was up with that back in the 50’s and 60’s that the women’s restroom was always outside?
The counter that sat in the middle of the room had an old cash register sitting on it. There was an old natural gas powered refrigerator sitting in the corner to the west of the counter. There was also an old chest type water cooled pop machine. A few old chairs were sitting by the windows and there was always men sitting in them drinking coffee and gossiping.
Between the gas station and the hardware store there were two work bays. The first bay (on the west) had a floor to ceiling wall that separated that bay and the wash bay. There was a half wall in front of the main wall that protected the cars and the men when someone was working on tires.
The east bay was for washing cars only. The wash bay had a door in the back wall facing the railroad tracks and had a very heavy metal door. This was the only door to the outside on the north side of the building.
One day a tourist stopped at the station and needed a tire because the car was on the lift in the west bay. He was told to wait in the station in one of the chairs. He didn’t pay attention to the guys and went wandering through the wash bay and opened the door to the outside to look out at the railroad tracks.
All of a sudden dad and I heard screaming and dad ran out of the farm supply into the wash bay. The guy was standing in the wash bay in a pool of blood holding one hand in the other one. He told dad the door had swung shut on his hand and had cut off a finger.
Dad looked around the wash bay and couldn’t find the finger. He then opened the back door and there on the cement outside the door was the finger. Dad grabbed the finger and threw it in a bag of ice.
He then grabbed a towel wrapping the guy’s hand tightly. Then he placed the guys hand into another bag of ice. Dad put the man and his finger into our station wagon and flew to Greensburg to the emergency room. I don’t think they were able to do anything with his finger back then but Dad sure tried to give it a chance.
Dad’s office was in the hardware or farm supply part of the station on the east side of the gas station. The door into the store faced south. The back storage room sat on the north side next to the railroad tracks.
They sold everything from fertilizer, washers, dryers, stoves, nuts and bolts, hammers and lawnmowers. It was a full service hardware store in a small space. The office sat on the west side of the new building next to the wash bay with a huge picture window facing the highway.
The desk that I worked at in the office was against the east wall facing the store area and had a large opening with a bar so the customers could write their checks. The door into the office was to the south of my desk about 4 feet from the corner or front wall of the building.
Sitting under the huge picture window in a large 36″ square block of concrete, was the safe. When they built the Co-op hardware addition, dad wanted a safe to keep the hunting and fishing licenses and the money from them separate from the Co-op money drawers.
One morning when dad and I went to work we found the front picture window of the office broken out. Someone had broken in through the back door and worked on the cement until they could get the cement block loose from the cement floor. Then they broke the window and attached a chain to the block.
Once it was hooked up to a truck outside it was pulled out the window and they took off with it. They found most of the block and the safe south of town on a dirt road. But for all their hard work they didn’t even get $50 out of the safe.
For most of the month I was working there things went smoothly and the books balanced every night under my care. While I was working on the books every day dad spent his time gossiping with the farmers that came in but he did manage to sell them something along the way. He always came home with more gossip than mom ever did when she went to the beauty shop.
When I was keeping books for my dad I also discovered what a perfectionist he was. He balanced the books and drawers every night before he left work. We were trying to balance the books one night and the cash drawers were a penny short of what the tickets showed for the hardware store and station.
We worked on it for awhile and I was getting frustrated with the whole process for one stupid penny. I told dad I would give him the darn penny to put in the till and then we would be even and we could go home.
“NO WAY!” he said, “we will find it before we leave for the night”. He eventually found the penny. I’m not sure where or how he found it, but we could finally quit for the night. We must have spent an hour looking for that stupid penny.
I learned a lot working for dad at the Co-op. The two most important lessons were: 1. Accounting is not my forte and 2. Never work for your dad. To contact Sandy: [email protected]