TheVegetable Store

by Bill Newman

One of the good jobs I had during the 30s was in the neighborhood vegetable store (Osborne Terrace). The hours were great, only 70 per week and the pay was also great, $10.00 per week, that's almost .15¢ per hour.

I don't want to be misleading, it was a good job. The rate of pay was what was being paid by other stores for the same work and I was sometimes given a tip when I made a delivery.

The usual tip was .02¢, or .05¢. You may wonder at how these amounts were arrived at. A tip was usually not given in cash but in the form of an empty soda bottle that could be redeemed for cash. When a bottle of soda or milk was purchased, a cash deposit was required on the bottle. Milk bottles were worth .03¢, but since most milk was delivered by a route man there were not many milk bottles to be returned to a store. Small soda bottles were worth .02¢ and the large soda bottles were worth a nickel.

As soon as I returned from a delivery in which I had received a tip I would stop at the corner candy store to convert the empty bottle into cash. I might make as much as an extra .25¢ in tips. This would be considered a good day.

My job was to deliver orders, help cleanup, which included washing the windows, wait on customers, take the display stands out to the sidewalk in the morning, return the stands to inside the store at closing time and to bring any deliveries into the store that might come.

The toughest part of the job was waiting on customers. A number of customers spoke English with a decided European accent. In addition to this I did not know the names of all the fruits and vegetables that the store stocked.

There was one item in particular that was very popular, it was called "shav", as close as I can spell it. Shav was various kinds of greens that were used in making certain soups or salads. I did not know this at the time of my employment and would tell any customer asking for shav that we did not have any.

One day the store owner told me that he could not believe that we sold so much shav. I was told that everyday the owner brought in a crate of shav and it was always empty when he went to get some. Yes, the box always was empty in a short while because I put it with the garbage. I had no idea what shav looked like and assumed that the crate of shav was garbage. I now know the truth.

I no longer threw out any shav at the same time that Abe, the owner started buying two boxes a day. We did not sell the two boxes and once again Abe had a shav mystery on his hands.

I guess I did the right thing by not clearing up the shav mystery. If I had to pay the shav I threw out I might have had to work there for many years, considering my rate of pay.

The job lasted one summer. The only part of the job I missed, besides the money was riding the delivery bicycle.


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