Kurt Dixon, Marvin Engelhaupt and Frank Denton, The Trifecta. The Sooper Dooper Trifecta. I was lucky to work with all three. Kurt was the store manager. Marvin was the meat manager. Frank was the produce manager.
As a bit of background, I worked at the grocery store, Sooper Dooper, all through high school and even beyond for a few years. It was the building beside Zesto. Everyone in town knows where Zesto is. I’m not even sure what is in that building now. Various offices I believe. I’m not in that area very often so I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t really matter though.
Marvin was the meat department manager. I worked back in the meat room a lot of times too. I was kind of all over the store. I was taught how to wrap meat and make potato salad. Sooper Dooper had the best potato salad. That is also where I learned how to cut up a chicken. Marvin was fun to work with. It was chill, yet we were expected to work as well. Life lessons. Important lessons from Marvin. What 16 or 17 year old knows how to cut up a chicken? I can’t remember the last time I have seen Marvin. It’s ironic that Marvin was the one to hire me a few years after the been caught stealing incident.
Frank was the produce manager. I worked back there helping Frank too. I had to wrap produce and stock the front of the store, which is where the produce was. Frank was kind of a bad ass. He had jet black hair. Frank was cool. He had that attitude. He had that something. I remember his wife, Sue and they had a little boy, Frankie. So cute. I recently found out that Frank is an artist. Frank Denton, Woodturner. Amazing and beautiful wooden bowls. Badass artist. I am going to have to explore his work further. I recently saw a picture of him on Facebook. He had a big fat cigar in his mouth. It was so fitting for him.
Sooper Dooper was a busy store. Most of the time. Kurt was a good boss. He was low key and even keel. I think I only saw him mad a few times. It was never anything about what we did. He sat back in his office. The office. That’s where he did his work. He was quiet, smart and a nice, nice man.
Back then the weekly store specials ad came out on Wednesdays in The Reminder. A local weekly paper where most of the store advertising happened. It was the deal of all deals for local stores. That is where, we the people, got our information about what was going to be on sale for the week. And people scoured those ads. They compared each ad with the other grocery stores in town and would even come into Sooper Dooper for one or two things that were on sale and cheaper than the others stores. I wonder if people still do that.
One of the things I remember most about Kurt was his handwriting. He made every single sale sign, every single week, for every single product on sale. His handwriting was amazing. It was professional handwriting. The sale signs hung in the aisles in front of the product. I always admired it and always wished I could write like that. Every single night when Kurt left the store to go home, he always bought the same two items. A six pack of Bud and pack of Marlboro reds. I can still picture him walking up to the front of the store. He took the same path every time. Out of the office, over to the bakery and up to the first cash register or whichever one of us was open. He would plop down the beer and cigs and sign the charge slip and be on his way.
I loved his family. His wife, Melinda and his two girls Chera and Mahryah, meant the world to me. I remember when Mahryah was around two. She had encephalitis and was extremely sick. I gave her a stuffed elephant and she carried that thing with her all the time. I used to babysit the girls when Kurt and Melinda went out of town. We had so much fun. Special, special people to me. I see Melinda periodically and Mahryah too.
I feel a little melancholy and sad as I write this. Sometimes it’s hard to remember. Sometimes it’s easier not to think about things. Today something made me remember.
Something made me want to write this post about Kurt. I wasn’t sure what it was. But it kept nagging and nagging at me. So I started. I started looking for information about him and remembered he had passed away actually almost 20 years ago. February 23, will be 20 years ago. My heart is heavy. I wonder what his demons were. I wonder. I wonder. See, Kurt took his own life at the age of 46. The connection runs deep. He was my boss and friend. I think of him often. Maybe that is why something told me to look. Something told me to remember. Something told me not to forget him. Something told me to write about him. Rest in peace, Kurt.