Mr. Excitement…The Teaser
by Al Koenigsfeld
Son of Lawrence Koenigsfeld
Since I was too young, in fact, not even born when Grandpa Peter died in 1945, to remember him, my memories of the store are when Dad was the sole proprietor. I do remember “Grandma King”. I remember sneaking into the store and scaring her, or so she made me believe. I vividly recall going to her wake at Aunt Mag’s house with Dad in 1954. I believe I asked him quite a few questions because I was only five.
As far as the Roseville Store goes for our generation, it was Lawrence, the teaser. He could cause more trouble in ten minutes than just about anyone, especially when teasing children. With little kids it was “Hi Boys” if two girls walked in and vice versa. Their response was always “We’re not Boys” or “We’re not Girls” in loud tones.
He could and would tease every salesman either by hiding their stuff or by picking their pockets. One time he bumped into the bread man and picked his billfold which had over $700 in it. Before he could get the guy stopped, the bread man jumped into his truck and raced back to Marble Rock where he had made his last stop. This was in the days before cell phones so Dad had to call the grocery store in Marble Rock and tell them that he had the billfold. That guy called Dad a few choice names but was very relieved to find it. From then on he kept a chain on it. For years after the Store was closed, he would stop to see Dad when he was going by.
Dad had an active mind but usually didn’t say much. That is why we always called him Mr. Excitement. He would stay quiet while you “buried” yourself, and then he would come out with something that totally embarrassed you or got a good laugh. On one occasion a customer came in and said, “I did something today I haven’t done in twenty years.” Mr. Excitement piped up and asked, “ What’d ya do wash your feet”? Actually, the customer was going to say that he had butchered a hog.
A lady stopped in for gas and dad was filling her car as she went on about that poor Marcella Marzen marrying that old man somewhere around Roseville. “I hear they have oodles of kids already. Why would she marry such an old man? Where do they live? What does this guy do ?” Mr. Excitement, in his slow it’s my time now lady, said, “Right now he’s filling your car with gas and we live over there across the street. I imagine there were half a dozen of us playing in the yard at the time. She paid for the gas and didn’t stick around long.
Another time a young gentleman was having his car filled with gas and began talking about all the kids that he had seen playing in yards around the area. “Up North here”, he said “ There must have been ten kids playing and down South by the bridge, there must have been six or eight. Look over there at all of them in the yard across the highway.(us) Wonder what that guy does in his spare time?” O Boy that was Mr. Excitements cue as he said, “Well, right now he is filling your car with gas.” The young man replied“ A well, I didn’t mean anything by it. Well I ‘ve got to go”
There were some pretty big families around Roseville in those days. There were a large number of ten, eleven, and twelve member families in the area. One family had seventeen and in those days it was with the same Pa and Ma, not mine, yours and ours like today.
Dad believed in letting people really bury themselves before telling them who they were talking about. One time he went with my brother Richard to buy a car in Charles City. One of the salesman knew the family and the other did not. The unfamiliar one asked where they were from. Dad said Roseville and the ceremonial embarrassing burial was at hand. Old “unfamiliar”, took off with “Does that old man still own the Roseville Store out there?…pop bottles all over the place out front and boxes stacked all over the place. Do you know that guy”? Meanwhile, “familiar” is waving his hands and making faces trying to get “unfamiliar” to shut the hell up…too late! Dad shook his head, “Ya we know him and he’s trying to buy a car from you.” Mr. Excitement strikes again. They did in fact buy a 1966 Dodge, I think. Certainly at times the place could be messy but everybody lived through it and in 50 more years nobody will remember the mess, but we do hope they remember the Store.
I remember many good things about Dad, growing up in Roseville. Besides working with him in the Store sacking potatoes and sugar, because they came in bulk, I remember going places with him in the car, when he would fly over a hill and make your stomach do summersaults. I remember when we were little kids lining up to get dee dee’s. He would take one kid at a time and put them on his right knee and bounce them up and down and end by going to the left knee. We would keep lining up until he got too tired. We would also line up for back scratches and teaspoons of cod liver oil, for good health, delivered from him.
Starting in 1974, after the store had been closed for eight years, I started cutting wood with dad. We had some close call and some laughs, but I really learned much about family. One time we took a four mile radius trip around Roseville and he was able to count 57 places that were no longer there or no longer occupied. I wonder how many more are gone today! Also he pointed out where they had lived and farmed when he was young.
At the Store it was always story time. When the stories were not for our young ears, outside they would go leaving us only to guess why they were laughing so hard. Dad had his saying like “one side or a leg off” which he usually used when he needed to use the bathroom. With one bathroom and thirteen people there were no squatters rights…get in, get out…thank you very much! Some of his other sayings were “pipe down” or “ if I have to come up there” and “apple pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.”
I started calling him fat man and he called me dumb boy. Then he lost 53 pounds and of course my name stayed the same. Our kids remember him as Grandpa Goat because he raised them. He was always happy to see grandkids and tease them.
Dad was good to people almost to a fault at times. When the Store closed there was between $7,000 and $8,000 dollars on the books that was never collected. However, most of our customers were the salt of the Earth, the workers, the farmers. The people who not only bought from us, but hired us to bale hay, walk beans, pitch begins with s ends with t and has a hi in the middle, cut thistles, and babysit. You bought locally and you bought from people who bought from you. Our economy wouldn’t be like it is today if we still used this philosophy.
I would like to end this with a huge THANK YOU to all the people who were our customers, all the people who brought us clothes and toys those many years, all the people who brought us food such as apples, sweet corn, and meat, all the people who hired us and paid us well, and all the people who as a society kept us in line, and all the people who helped us in so many other ways. Also a tremendous THANKS to all the people who have contributed so generously to our project of saving the Roseville Store. I have a feeling that Grandpa Peter and Dad are proud of the progress. I know that Dad, with a mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes, would give you a great big Church hand squeeze… after he braced himself , of course.
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