I worked for Convenient Industries of America, for about 11 years, and then bought a store and franchise in Ft. Myers, Florida. Bob End from Irvington was a good friend and one of my partners. His son Gary and I bow hunted deer in Yellow Bank. That was one of the reasons we settled here when Fran and I returned from Arizona.
I worked for Circle-K Corporation in Tampa, Florida as engineering director full time, and I taught school part time at Tampa Bay’s Vocational and Technical Institute in the adult educational division. I taught estimating and blueprint-reading. I also taught seminars for The American Builders and Contractors Association. The high school classes were comprised of young people who needed to beef up their credentials for promotion to become superintendents or estimators. The ABCA seminars were for contractors to get a better knowledge of what information and form it took, for construction contract managers to get their draws quickly processed. I left that position when I was about 47 years old and moved to take a job in Arizona as a Contract Manager for Northern Automotive working for Tom Bunnell and Jules Trump. At the time, Jules was Gina Lolabrigida’s landlord.
Tom was my boss, and my best friend. He’s now dead. We were going to play golf one Saturday morning and stopped in a convenience store where I witnessed something extraordinary. We got in line to pay and a pretty young Mexican girl, holding her baby on her hip, as mothers are want to do, she laid some diapers, formulae, and baby tissues on the counter. We were in a hurry for our Tee-time, but the young mother, began emptying her change on the counter, counting out the quarters first and then the smaller silver, and then the pennies. Finding she was short 17 cents on a $24.00 purchase, the cashier unconcernedly told her she would have to put something back. That’s when Tom stepped up and told the cashier to add her purchase to ours. She scooped up the change and offered it to Tom, but he told the girl it was a gift. She had tears running down both her cheeks. I don’t know about Tom, but I did to. I will never forget her gratefulness nor her smile and tears of happiness. After my heart attack at age 52 we returned to Kentucky and bought several lots near Payneville. I began teaching at the Catholic school, St. Simon and Jude in Louisville. Every-day I drove about 50 miles each way to school, and sometimes I stopped at Jessies Restaurant for breakfast. One dark, chilly, fall, morning I parked in front of Jessies and noticed several people passing a little old man, wrinkled and browned from the sun, gray bearded, stooped, in overalls and an old, felt hat like Papa wore. I went to the door, and the old man looked up to me, a thing that doesn’t happen often. He was stooped, leaning on a homemade cane. We made eye contact, and he asked, “Sir, could you spare few dollars for me to get something to eat? I haven’t eaten since yesterday.” His eyes were and unforgettable. They were gray-blue with a hint of hazel green, clear bright, and sparkling. He told me he had hitch hiked from Munfordville, walking a good deal of the way since the previous afternoon, and hadn’t eaten. He said he was going to see his daughter in Louisville. I told him I would do better than that, and walked with him into the restaurant, and though the counter was empty, the restaurant was busy. I told him to take a seat at the counter and directed the server to give him whatever he wanted and put it on my bill. I had only 14 or 15 dollars in my pocket, but I had plastic. I sat in a booth and as I ate, I watched him.
He ordered a bowl of oatmeal, a glass of milk, and biscuits and gravy. He poured some cold milk onto the oatmeal and ate it ravenously, with his fingers wrapped around the spoon’s handle, just like Papa used to do. He looked straight ahead but when the server asked if he needed anything, he smiled. Finishing, he walked back to thank me. I slipped two folded five-dollar bills in his hand, and kept three or four singles for myself, I guiltily told him I wished I had more. After a minute or two, I considered. I had a debit card and could always get money from any ATM. I also could drive him a little closer to his daughter’s and give him what cash I had left, or even a little more. He departed not three minutes before me, but when I went outside to find him, he was gone.
Greg Bevin told a story at the “Man Up,” meeting in St. Mary’s Church. A hungry little boy in a war-torn city was looking in the window of a bakery eyeing the breads and pastries and smelling their goodness. A soldier closely watching him entered the bakery and purchased an assortment. Exiting, the shop, he handed the bag to the boy. With tears flowing down his cheeks, he looked up and asked, the soldier, “Are you Jesus?” After hearing Greg’s story, I now wonder if the little Mexican girl or that wizened old man could have been Jesus? What you do to the least of his people you do unto him, or something close.