Cleve’s Foodland

After working two summers in Grace Idaho on a farm, I decided there must be a better way to make a dollar.  As soon as I arrived back in Logan, I applied at Cleve’s on 1st West and 2nd North.  Cleve offered me a job and I started immediately, making the incredible amount of $0.85 per hour.  I typically worked 20-30 hours a week, several days after school and all day Saturday.  Initially I was a shelf stocker and grocery bagger.  Later I did other things such as produce, checking out customers and I even helped in the meat department a few times.

Cleve’s son-in-law, Glenn Covert, was the meat manager and sometimes he asked me to help him.  One day I was slicing lunch meat on the big old slicer, when I noticed my finger was in the wrong place.  The back of my pointer finger had a nice slice and it was bleeding.  I tried to finish the job, wrap the meat for the customer, without showing blood.  I put a big gauze bandage on the finger and kept working.  Later that day I was grinding a big batch of hamburger. We would first cut the meat into cubes, then do the initial grind, then put a smaller die on the grinder for the final cutting.  About 3/4 of the way through the batch, I noticed that my bandage was gone.  I had two choices to make: admit that the bandage was in the 40 pounds of ground beef, or not.

We workers would get bored from time to time, so we pulled pranks on the “new guys”.  Cleve often hired college students, but more often than not, they only worked one day.  I’m sure they were disappointed as many were married.  Didn’t stop us from pulling pranks.  One old favorite was the Twinkie race.  We would doctor up a Twinkie with shaving cream inserted in the bottom.  The race was with a new guy – the last to finish had to pay for the Twinkie.  The new guy would stuff the whole cake into his mouth and about the time he would swallow the taste of the shaving cream hit him and he would spit it out.  New guy,  pay for the Twinkie, you didn’t finish.

In those days, we had bulk vinegar in the back room.  Customers would bring empty gallon jars to the store and we would fill them with either white or amber vinegar.  While working we would get warm, so we would drink a cola and put it in the rear cooler, so sometimes in the freezer, to have a slushy drink.  Unfortunately, the amber vinegar was the same color as the soda.  I was a perpetrator of this prank very often, but I did acquire a taste for vinegar as I drank it so often.

You would think that no one would be gullible enough to fall for this, but we sent many a first day worker to another store to retrieve our “sack stretcher” which we had loaned them.  Some of the guys would go to the first store, only to be sent to another, and perhaps a third before they caught on.  One person never came back at all.  Probably still looking for the stack stretcher.

Cleve and his sons took long lunch breaks, so this was the time to raise the devil.  One day I told a new employee that we were going to put new tile on the floor, so he needed to count the number of tiles.  He wasn’t smart enough to count in one direction and then the other and use multiplication.  He was tapping his foot on each tile.  He was almost to the end of an aisle, when we came around the corner with a large hand truck – making him lose his place and he had to start over.   It is amazing I kept that job for two years.


Leave a Reply