The Sooper Dooper Chronicles – Chapter 2 – The Trifecta

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.

Strong Women – Be Them – Know Them – Raise Them

Today, I thought I was going to write Chapter 2 of the Sooper Dooper Chronicles. I have been working on it all week. I was all ready to write it tonight, until I saw something that fired me up.

Larry Nassar, the team doctor at Michigan State University and the olympic gymnastics team doctor for years, was sentenced today to 175 years in prison. He should have been sentenced years ago. He should have been stopped years ago. He should have been.

Gymnastics was my sport. I lived and breathed gymnastics. Every.Single.Day. There are so many things that we are faced with as children and if we have some common sense and if our parents warned us enough, we know when something is not right. These little girls that he molested, didn’t have that opportunity. But you know what? They knew something was wrong. They told. But nobody would listen. Nobody would help them. It continued and it continued and it continued. This monster continued molesting kids for over 20 years. He molested over 160 children. That number is only the ones who have come forward. I would bet money it is double that number, if not more. This monster was enabled by many many people and organizations to continue molesting throughout his whole career.

It makes me sick that this happens in the sports world. I know this is not the only instance, but I bet it’s the worst instance, and it’s the instance I am writing about here. In no way, shape, or form am I dismissing other instances of abuse.

I listened to the victim statements of many of these survivors. Heart-wrenching. Gut-wrenching. The abuse they endured. Not only sexual molestation, but cruelty by coaches. Physically, mentally and verbally. The abuse is shocking. I am going to link a blog post here of a gymnast named Katelyn Ohashi.  Ohashi writes about the abuse, her abuse. About not being able to eat. About working out until she looked ready to practice. About becoming bulimic. The body image issues. My God. Do people not know what happens to girls mentally when things like this happen. It scars. It scars for life. The scar may fade, but it never goes away. The words never go away.

When I was in gymnastics, I was told I needed to lose 10 pounds. I weighed 116 at that time. There was no way I could lose 10 pounds. As I have written before, this developed into a full blown eating disorder called bulimia. What makes it so hard and actually kind of twisted, is that we look up to these coaches. We want to please them. We want to do well, even if they are hard on us. We want to do what they tell us to. They are supposed to be there to guide us and help us make decisions. They aren’t supposed to be there to mess us up. They aren’t supposed to be there to make us be ashamed of our bodies. I never went out my senior year. I didn’t like the coach. I got the creepy vibe from him. Thank God I am pretty good at listening to my gut and intuition. There was just something that told me I didn’t need gymnastics anymore. One of my teammates and I were at practice and the coach told us to lay on our backs, which was probably our best position anyway. I couldn’t believe I was hearing those words come out of a coach’s mouth. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. It shook us up. My teammate got an apology. I never did. I was pretty much done after that. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

The sport I loved. The sport I cherished. What did I get out of it? An eating disorder and a perv for a coach.

My experience is NOTHING compared to these girls. However, it was my experience. We all have our own hell. We all have our own experiences. We all do. One way my experience has helped me grow is because of it, I am now helping other people overcome these hells. This is the positive that came out of my hell.

I hope now by shedding a huge, huge spotlight on these practices that it stops. I hope the abuse stops. I hope ALL the abuse stops. I hope every single person responsible for letting this monster keep molesting kids is held responsible. They knew. They knew. They could have stopped him many years ago. If they had listened. If only they had not hidden it, so many of these survivors would not be in court verbalizing their stories.

These now adult women are brave and strong to come forward. Even if they didn’t want to, they still had the courage to do so. Their stories were moving, and emotional and eloquent and sad. You can’t help but empathize with them. And really, why wouldn’t everyone. As little kid women, they tried. They tried to tell and were stifled. They were innocent. They didn’t deserve what happened to them. If there is a good thing that came out of this it’s that they are now strong. They are now loud. They are forever strong. What happened to them does not define them. It empowers them.

Strong Women – Be Them – Know Them – Raise Them

“Each time a woman supports herself…she stands up for all women.” —Maya Angelou

The Sooper Dooper Chronicles, chapter one

Her name was Jessie Hall. She was one of the “night managers.” One of the Saturday and Sunday managers too. She was an older lady with gray hair and glasses. She had eye problems. A lot. She also had other health ailments and she was always worried about her weight. Her health didn’t stop her though. It didn’t stop her from teaching us things. Life things. How to be a decent human things. She loved us kids. She loved her work kids.

We lived in the Prospect house. It was up the alley from the store I worked at all through high school. Sooper Dooper. They had a jingle. It’s catchy. Sooper Dooper Market, have a Sooper Dooper day. It’s stuck in my head now. Probably not yours, unless you had heard it on the radio when you were younger.

Sooper Dooper was a crappy old building with lots of character. The characters were rats. In the basement. Creepy. It’s the building that is right next door to the Zesto. Notice how I didn’t say Zestos. There is no S on the end. It’s Zesto. If you grew up in Pierre, you know this.

Jessie was a good night boss. She scared the crap out of us and didn’t let us get away with anything. At the same time, she showed us respect. I love when adults can do that with high school kids who probably have no idea what they want to do in life. Jessie listened to us. She let us talk. She let us be. Jessie was the type of person who could spot a bullshitter a mile away. She didn’t take crap from anyone. If you showed her you were a good worker and were honest and trustworthy, you were on her list. Her life list. She would do anything for you. She was not lazy. She was an extremely hard worker and expected others to be the same.

There was an office at the store, back near the butcher area. She usually stayed back there unless we needed something. There was an intercom, so we could be lazy asses and not have to walk all the way back there if we needed money for our tills, or if we needed her to come up front and approve a check or something.

I met a lot of friends there and worked with a lot of amazing people. One friend, Chet, is one of my all time favorite people. We were super close and we got a long really well. Still do. Another friend was Angela. She and I, and I’m sure Chet too, usually had to work the dreaded 3-10 shift on Sunday. That was the worst shift ever. If you were the lucky checker that night, you got the 3-9 shift. Still rotten, but getting to leave at 9 was like heaven. Sundays were the least busy times at the store. Boring as boring can get. You know what happens when people get bored? When kids get bored? They start to do goofy things. One Sunday, Angela and I were checking and we bored beyond belief. We found some basket/pot things and wore them on our heads like hats. We told everyone we were pot heads. We thought we were super clever. I’m sure nobody else did. Hey, it passed the time.

Another time we were all working together. Another Sunday, I’m sure. Jessie was managing. We were having fun. Maybe a little too much fun. We were laughing and must have been pretty loud. Pretty soon, we could hear her coming up to the front. She yelled at us and told us to get to work. She told Chet to go face shelves. If you’ve ever worked at a store, that is the most boring, mundane job EVER in the history of stores. It absolutely sucks. After she got done chewing us out, she started walking back to the office. Chet followed behind. No big deal. Except as Chet followed behind he decided to walk like a monkey. He was swinging his arms and his legs were low to the ground, following behind her. I was dying laughing. I couldn’t stop, until Jessie turned around. She turned around and caught Chet making fun of her. Holy crap! I can still see her face. There might have even been steam coming out of her ears. And then she said it. The thing she said to us every time she got mad at us. The dreaded phrase. The dreaded Jessie phrase. Nobody wanted to hear this phrase from Jessie. She looked Chet right in the eye and said, “God’s gonna punish you.” Whenever she said this, we never knew whether we should laugh or cry. It was disturbing. Sometimes you could tell she was kidding. This time she was not kidding. I’m pretty sure Chet was on her other list. You know the “other” list. The shit list. I’m sure it wasn’t for very long though. Like I said she loved her work kids and we loved her. I miss Jessie. Rest In Peace.

Jessie Wooledge Hall was born June 6, 1917, at Gann Valley,South Dakota, to Lucy Yakey Wooledge and Robert Leroy Wooledge, who farmed in the area. Jessie attended grade school and high school at Gann Valley.
On November 8, 1933, Jessie married Jens Melvin Hall of Gann Valley. They farmed until the impact of the Depression made it impossible for them to continue. In the fall of 1941, the family moved to Pierre where Melvin took employment with Wegner Auto. During this time, Jessie worked for a number of local businesses that included J.C. Penney, Roth Dry Cleaners, Sooper Dooper, Anderson Clothing, as well as state government.

In 1992, Jessie relocated to Sheridan, Wyoming, to reside with her youngest daughter. While there, she took care of elderly in their
homes. Due to ill health she returned to Pierre in 1996 and resided
for a time at Midtown Apartments. In February 1998, she entered
the Beverly Nursing Center due to complications of diabetes.

Jessie was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church of Pierre where she served on the vestry. Her love for her children and grandchildren was expressed in many ways. She was an avid reader, great cook and counselor to her family. St. Mary’s Hospital honored her for her generosity in donating blood for which she was genuinely proud. Her generous spirit and assistance to others less fortunate were many.

Jessie, 83 of Pierre, died Wednesday, October 4, 2000,Mary house Sub-Acute Center, Pierre, SD.

Jessie is survived by five daughters, Margaret Schlichenmayer and husband Eugene of Pierre, Jeanne Lincoln and husband Ron of Aliso Viejo, California, Jeannette Pfeiffer and husband Vern of Pierre, Muriel Jarman and husband Earnest of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Mary Lehnert of Sheridan, Wyoming; and one son David Hall and wife Patricia of Casper, Wyoming. Also surviving are 12 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren and special friend, Cindy Reed.

Preceding her in death were her husband in 1966, mother and father, three infant children, a brother, Winfield Forrest (Bill) Wooledge and a son-in-law, James Lehnert.

Memorials may be directed to Trinity Episcopal Church in
memory of her and her love of the Lord.

A Love Day

Today is our anniversary. An anniversary celebrating 20 years of marriage. An anniversary celebrating 20 years of life together. An anniversary of the day we each said, I do. A love day.

20 years of raising kids and now watching grandkids grow. 20 years of loving each other for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It’s never been worse. It’s only been better. It’s been sickness and it’s been health.

20 years ago we flew to Las Vegas to get married after knowing each other eight months. We flew there to seal the bond of love. We played Elvis songs at our wedding. My best friend was my maid of honor. Mary. John’s brother was his best man. Roy.

It was a simple wedding. Just what we wanted. Just what we needed. The man who married us told us that he wished everyone who got married in Vegas was in love like us.

Love is what we are. Love is what we do. We married out of love. We married out of respect. We married out of trust. We married.

It’s still hard to believe it is 20 years. It feels like yesterday. I still get excited to see him. I still tell him I love him several times a day. I still kiss him goodnight, every single night. I am still in love with him.

Our life is simple. We can sit in silence and not feel uncomfortable. There is never awkward. There is never weird. We take on each other’s emotions. When one of us gets grumpy it doesn’t take long and the other is grumpy. If one is happy the other is happy. We feed off each other’s vibe. We feel deeply. We are deeply connected. I’m not sure if I ever believed in the soul mate thing, but once I met John, I knew it was true.

One year we got each other the exact the same anniversary card. We were opening them at the same time and just started laughing. We think the same for sure.

I can’t imagine life without him. I wouldn’t want to do it. Happily ever after is real for us. I have a feeling that, with him, forever won’t be quite long enough.

January 10, 1998, was a good day. It was a love day. It was a forever day. It was John and Peggie day.

Ken and Egghead

When we lived in the Euclid house, about half a block away in the now empty lot of Sara’s Dance Studio, there was a small store called The Cottage. That’s where my sister, Wendy, stuck her tongue to the street pole one winter. That’s where I got caught stealing. That’s where we got caught lying.

We used to collect empty pop bottles. At that time you had to pay a deposit for the bottles when you bought pop. We would take them in and get money for them. I can’t even remember how much it was per bottle. Maybe a nickel. Maybe not. I can’t remember. You would just add the ones you had to the pile out back and then tell Ken or Egghead how many you had.

Ken and Egghead ran the store. I don’t know if they owned it. How would a kid know this? Exactly. Ken and Egghead seemed old. I don’t think they were, but as a kid everyone over 25 seems old. Ken had dark hair and glasses and wore plaid shirts. Egghead was taller. He was bald and had an oval shaped face. He had glasses too. He wore solid colored shirts and one of those white store aprons. Egghead was not his real name. That’s what we called him. No disrespect at all. He just looked like his name should be Egghead. So it was, to us. Ken was nicer, although I’m sure they both hated it every time we came in. They watched us like hawks. I wonder why? Remember the Been Caught Stealing story?

One day we thought we would go to the store and get some money for pop bottles. We needed some money for candy. Our life was candy.

We, and when I say we, it was the sister who was my partner in crime. The sister named Sherry. Remember the cigarette story? Remember the burning bed story? Yeah, that sister.

We went to the store and went inside. The store was old, but cool. It was dark and shadow-y. It was musty smelling and the floor was made of hardwood and it creaked when you walked. I wonder if Egghead was a butcher? Those white aprons were the kind that butchers usually wore. Weird. Anyway, I don’t remember if they sold meat there. We were always focused on the candy and the comic books. I was never into comic books, but they had a great selection of comic books. They also had a great selection of candy. I paid attention to that. Twizzlers and sixlets were my jam.

We told Ken and Egghead that we wanted money for the pop bottles we had collected. We told them how many we had and that we wanted money for them to buy candy. Nothing different than any other time we turned in pop bottles. Except this time, one of them walked back to check. What??? They never did that before. Uh oh. They were on to us. This was not going to go well.

It just so happened that all the pop bottles had been picked up by the bottling company and there were none, zilch, zero pop bottles out back on the landing. We were doomed. We didn’t know what to do. What the heck were we supposed to say now? Ummmm, oh. Sorry?

They chewed us up one side and down the other. They both seemed super tall. I consulted with Sherry, because I couldn’t remember what exactly happened next. She thinks they made us call our mom and tell her what happened. That makes complete sense, because why would they just let us go? We both can’t remember what happened when we got home. I’m sure we walked that half block home as slowly as we possibly could. But, hey, we’re still here to tell the story!

We didn’t try that prank on Ken and Egghead again and I’m sure they watched us even closer after that incident. Crime doesn’t pay people!