Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Broom Man.....

My brother posted about the death of a man who was a real part of my Omaha experience. From when I was a small boy there was The Reverend Livingston Wills, an elderly blind man who would be seen walking the sidewalks with his white cane and a bundle of brooms. I think even my mother, who is no friend to sales people in person or on the phone but that is another blog, bought a broom from Reverend Wills. Check Chris' blog, MaxsDad here for his graceful and eloquent writing.

I'll retreat to the less warm and fond memories. Chris touched on the mean blonde lady at the Countryside Pharmacy. She also was there from my early school day memories at Christ the King Elementary which was across Shamrock Avenue. We were forbidden to go there by the nuns. They actually patrolled the sidewalks of this small shopping center to chastise us (and beat us with a ruler was my assumption) if we were evil enough to go there. Along to that memory line, I once was told by my mom to pick something up down at "The Village" after school. Being a good son, who rarely got caught being bad but I got caught. I nearly had a meltdown as Sister Mary Butch not only accused me of trespassing, breaking nun rules and being a candidate for Hell but also lying about my sainted mother. A "good mother like yours" wouldn't send me to this commercial pit of sinful activities after school! Sister Butch KNEW that my mother knew the rules. I don't think I even told my mother that I was punished for that. My brother probably did if he knew. He not only got caught at everything he ever did wrong but seemed to enjoy making sure I got caught once in a while, too. The mean blonde pharmacy lady worked there until the last few years the pharmacy was open in the late 90s.

She always was as mean as anyone could be. She treated us kids like we were shitting on her counter when we bought candy, a soda or a Chapstick. She would warmly greet the nice, upper middle class, white, well dressed neighborhood residents. She'd either ignore or browbeat everyone else.

I stopped to buy some sundry item ten or so years ago when I was visiting from California once. She was very polite and gracious. After getting my change, she thanked me. I couldn't resist. I very politely said that she could have been this polite to me when I was purchasing things here as a small child and I would have more confidence in her courtesy now as an adult. She immediately wiped the fake smile off her face and said that I must have been a loud, obnoxious, rude shoplifter like all the kids that still come in here. I wanted to do something dramatic like put my purchases on the counter and say I didn't want anything from her. But I just left shaking my head. She died a few years ago, too. I doubt there are many good memories of her.

I'm still going to be watching the sidewalks of Omaha for the The Reverend Livingston Wills whenever I visit. They need statues of people like him in the public spaces in Omaha. They'll probably get one of Hal Daub instead.

1 comment:

Max's Dad said...

Oh yeah. The mean blonde lady scared me at age 40. In fact how many times I didnt go in there because of her? Tons. I knew she died because of an obituary in the paper and my first thought was Satan better get his shit together because he has competition now. Reverend Wills funeral was right by Bergan when Mom was there Friday morning. I could've just wandered over there but I didnt. Good post. The nuns and the mean blonde lady may have contributed to my psyche to this day. Yikes!