My Memories of the Roseville Store
by Jerome Koenigsfeld
When Grandpa Peter died, I was 1 years-old, so I never knew him. Grandma King kept to herself and we saw very little of her in her later years. One day, during the middle of the week, Dad and I were working in the store, when Grandma came down all dressed up for church. Dad asked her where she was going and she said "well, don't you hear the bells ringing?" So, off to church she went. After about a half hour, I asked Dad if I should go get her and he said, "no, let her be". She came back in about an hour upset, not because she sat in church for one hour but because no one else showed up for church, not even the priest! Now, after all of these years, I finally know what she was talking about, I hear the "bells ringing" sometimes.
The farmers from the area usually came in more during the winter months and would stand around the stove to stay warm and shoot the bull. Sometimes it got quite deep in there. A lot of the talk was about farming, or the crops, animals, or hunting, but sometimes the stories became quite wild and then the arguments would ensue of who was lying and who wasn't. Then at times when Alfonse Wilhm and/or Pete Marzen would come in laughing and telling their stories we would laugh until we cried or our sides would hurt just laughing at them telling their stories. Adolph Vala used to come into the store and stand at the counter. Sometimes he would draw an animal on a piece of paper so quickly and so perfectly, that it looked like a photograph. He was also one of the best hunters and trackers in Roseville.
Then there was the lady that knew when the Hormel meat supply would come into the store. She was there religiously, asking if the meat was fresh, and Dad would tell her that "if it were any fresher it would slap your face".
Some business people traveling on highway 14 would stop at our store, men dressed in nice suits and women in fancy dresses. They would hurry into the store and ask "where the restrooms were?" and I would tell them, the last door at the end of the building and point east. They would hurry off in that direction, then in less than a minute, they would hot-foot it back to their car and spin their tires and off they would go and I would just say to myself, "guess they really didn't need to go". Years later, it occurred to me that when they opened the door and saw the two-holer, it must have been quite a shock, it still makes me laugh when I think about it.
The store was good work experience, each ticket was tallied by hand and then entered into the register so a receipt was made for Dad and the IRS. Not only did we sell groceries, bulk vinegar, oil, and feed, we also fixed flat tires, pumped gas and even served ice cream cones. Some years, on the last day of school at St. Mary's, Dad would bring the three-gallon containers of ice cream, the scoop, and cones and pass out one to every kid grades 1-8 and the Sisters. He was a big hit on that day!
Dad would buy the organic whole wheat from Deaf Smith County, Texas. We had an electric stone grinding mill, to grind the flour that we would package in 5 or 10-lbs bags. People would come from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois and other states just to buy this whole wheat flour. All of this was word-of-mouth advertising. Dad would periodically bake up 6 loaves of wheat bread of his recipe of black strap molasses, wheat, and other ingredients. When it came out of the oven we would eat 3 loaves immediately. We ate it with butter like it was candy.
When folks would run up a tab so high that they couldn't or wouldn't pay it, then they would go to other stores and avoid coming into the store for awhile. However, when their luck ran out and they hit hard times, they would come back in and make their plea to Dad for even more credit. Not once, in all of the time I worked there, did I see him turn anyone away. He wouldn't let them have luxuries, like cigarettes, but he made sure they had their necessities. You'd be surprised how many times you wouldn't see them again until their luck had ran out yet again. But Dad always said that they have children, and he couldn't turn them away. The majority of the customers had a running tab, but when they sold livestock or their crops, they came in to pay their bill. That was what made the store work.
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