Longtime readers of this blog might be able to find these pictures – they originally appeared here about 2 1/2 years ago . . .
. . . the first time those dollar packs appeared in our booth. I took eight boxes of them with me on a trip south, thinking they would last through shows in Atlanta and Clearwater. The view at right is what was left at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta – they didn’t even make it through the first day.
And as a customer came to the register with a handful of them, I would say “Thanks for keeping a 96-year-old man busy in our backroom.” The customers who really heard what I was saying were amazed – and some asked for more information.
Walter White is Gary’s father-in-law and he is a fascinating man – a World War II veteran who has lived many places and spent much of his life working as a research chemist for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York. He and his wife came to our area to be closer to their children as his wife’s health was failing, and he started working with us shortly after she died.
Walter’s life is filled with stories, and I got to hear many of them when I drove him back and forth to the store several years ago after Gary tried to see how many bones he could break by falling off his horse. One of the best stories came 12 or 13 years ago when Walter decided that his eyesight was failing and he needed to stop driving. So he drove to the store that day, announced to everyone that it was going to be his last day of driving – and rear-ended a car on his way home. It was the first and only auto accident of his life.
Every year in late July I have to change the dollar pack spiel as Walter gets a year older. So about a month ago, what was once 96 became 99.
Yesterday afternoon, I brought the truck to the store to unload some boxes after last weekend’s show in Collinsville, Illinois. And when I walked through the backroom, Walter was hard at work. He doesn’t get here as much as he did a few years ago – maybe a couple of hours two or three times a week. But he’s still amazed that so many of you find treasure in the little bags of paper that he creates.
He has his two tables full of little scraps of paper, cellophane bags to stuff, and boxes next to the tables to fill with finished bags to fill those plastic tubs at shows. And if there’s an afternoon baseball game on the radio, he’ll have earbuds in his ears – Walter loves baseball as much as I do.
Twice last weekend, customers came to me with dollar packs in their hands to ask if the price on them was correct – in one case a pack was marked $10.05 and in another case it was $0.05. Of course, they were all $1.00 – and when I explained that Walter is 99 and doesn’t see very well anymore, everyone seems to understand.
Walter is the first 99-year-old man I have ever known. On his 98th birthday last year, he announced to his family that there wouldn’t be a 99th – he knew that his health is not what it once was and body parts are wearing out. But he was wrong, and he’s still here – and I really hope that at the end of July next year, he will become the first 100-year-old man I have ever known.
And I’ll have to change the spiel again . . .