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February 14, 2020

The Red Top Grocery Store

by leroywandahsega

      My sister, bother and I were kept busy when our adoption process began and our cousin on my mothers side would become our Dad. The three of us began working with the Wilsey family very early in our adoption. As I remember we were constantly being yelled at for bad behavior (I was five) and keeping the my younger brother and sister and I seemed to be important. I really did not realize the amount of real world work I was learning at a very young age. By the time, I was six years old I was stocking, rotating inventory and cleaning shelves in a grocery store my Dad operated. He butchered his own meat as this was the trade he had done back in Chicago where he said he worked for Kroger meats. He seemed to be very proud of his butchery skills and used to tell me how valuable of a trade it had been for him while I would watch him push chopped up red chunks of meat to be placed in a hand meat grinder to produce hamburger patties. I would often go to help and operate the handle that made the blades turn inside while Dad push the meat through the opening on the top. I did not go to often because I would get very queasy and would want to leave. I think it may have drawn flashbacks in my young mind because I distinctly remember skinned dear hanging on logs. It was a brief memory of living on the reservation. I often wonder if that is why I felt queasy.

      We continued to work in this grocery store for about a year and my dad related to many Mexican and Black people who were mainly poor. They would come dressed very poorly and would smell like they did not wash often but they were nice people and my Dad seemed to be very kind to them and would talk with them as if they knew each other for a long time. Watching him talk with others made it easier for me later in life as he was teaching me a skill of knowing how to relate to people who may look desperate and sometimes scary to others. It is an invaluable skill to have in the “streets” because people can sense who you are.

Becoming an entrepreneur was in my blood, in a sense, as my Dad would show teach me skills and provide me with knowledge to be self-sufficient. I hope to pass this ability on to others.

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