In Mama’s Depression story, she said, Old Mike Mataxis, the grocery man, sold us groceries on time all the time Ruhl was out of work. When Ruhl went back to work, we owed Mike $50.
I’ve looked through her book for more of the story about Mike, because I know there is more, but I can’t find anything, so I guess it’s up to me to tell you about my parent’s fond stories about Mike, the grocer.
Mike ran a little neighborhood grocery, and my parents had done all their grocery shopping there since they had moved into that neighborhood. But, it was the four months when my father was laid off that forged a very special relationship for them with Mike.
They told Mike as soon as Daddy was laid off that they didn’t know how long they were going to be able to pay for their groceries. But Mike told them not to worry … they would figure something out. And, what he did was take what they could pay and carried the rest on the books and then toward the end, when their money had almost totally run out, he just carried all their groceries on the books.
Of course, Mama was very careful during the time Mike was carrying them, to only order the very barest of essentials. But she said whenever they bought groceries, Mike would slip some pieces of fruit and a few pieces of candy in the bag for the kids. She said during that time he never treated them any differently than when they had been paying customers. And he would just wave them off if they tried to thank him.
But, a few years later, after their hard times had passed and they had paid Mike back, Mama did have an opportunity to thank Mike in a very special way.
When World War II broke out, Mike’s young son (like many, many young men), enlisted and was sent overseas.
But Mike was Greek and didn’t read English very well, and Mama found out that when he received letters from his son, he struggled to read the letters and struggled even more to write a reply. So, Mama told Mike she wanted to help. When he would receive his once-a-week letter from his son, Mama would read it to him and then write a letter back to his son for him.
What a great friendship that ended up blessing the lives of both Mama and Daddy and Mike, the Grocer.