Hokah And The Store Essay

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Hokah and the Store
As a result of his close associations with shipping and the railroads during about ten years of working in the grain business, Dad devel-oped an intense interest in railroading which never died. Railroading was a dangerous business around the turn of the 20th century, per-haps the equivalent of the airline business in the 1930s and 40s. A career with the railroads was discouraged by the family, so Dad never pursued his dream. He succumbed to family pressure around 1913 and returned to Hokah to run the family grocery store, Reilly & Reilly, along with his sister Nell. I think his disappointment over railroading was a major factor in his later acquiescence to my en-deavors in the aviation industry, neither encouraged nor
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Shortly thereafter, a carrier, who picked up the mail from the railroad depot, would arrive with the morning’s mail. Locked bags were opened, the contents sorted and delivered to individual, combination-locked boxes, rented by postal patrons. All had to be ready for opening the business day at 8:00 AM.
Closing time was 6:00 PM except for Saturday, when he closed at 1:00 PM, theoretically. However, a farmer in town for weekend shop-ping would be served on request, since the store remained open until 9:00 on Saturday night. Early mornings and late nights were the pat-tern of business in mid-century. Dad would rotate in his grave if he could see what has become of his beloved postal service. ‘Service’ really meant something to him.
Some Family Odds ‘n Ends
After reading a bit about the Irish Potato Famine and the destitute condition of the Irish immigrants to the U.S., it appears that the family was relatively affluent by the turn of the century. The old house, on main street north of town (Dad’s nota-tion), was set on a plot of ground about a half acre in size. There was a barn north-west of the house, that housed horses and a cow or two, and they also kept a few chickens judging from old pictures.
In my time, a large garden was still planted in the spring. We had abundant produce for the summer and root crops stored for winter, a long-standing family tradition. The family owned the farmland by 1891, when Dad was banished from school
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