Workin’ at the Store

Back in 1943, when I was sixteen and had just  graduated from high school and had also just got my drivers license, I asked Ted Boyce if I could work at his grocery store.  Ted’s son George was my good friend and classmate, but George didn’t want to work in his dad’s store.   had a herring seining business and that was what George was interested in.  I know that Ted had Carol Staples from Swan’s Island working for him, and I think they had a weir or two around Hat Island.

John T. Treneer Grocery

Anyway, Ted hired me to wait on trade in the store and also, because I now had a drivers license, I could drive his truck to make deliveries of grain.  I was on top of the world.  Ted also hired Jasper Wyman to work in the store.  Jasper was only a year older than me, and we were friends so everything worked out great.

So the summer was going along in full swing; business was great, we were busy and Ted was happy, but then one day something happened that will stay in my mind forever.  Ted had some storage of case goods out in back in a cellar area, and sometimes it got a little damp out there.  In this instance there were quite a number of cases of canned milk that had got wet and the labels came loose.  The milk was still okay, and Ted decided to have a sale on the milk.  He told Jasper and me to make a nice display in the center of the store, so we built a large pyramid of cans; must have been a hundred or more.  It was a real nice eye-catching display.

Early in the afternoon a Deer Isle lady came in to shop.  She was a large, full-bosomed lady known for a no-nonsense attitude and a bit of a temper.  Anyway, things were going along well as we helped her with her shopping.  Finally she stood at the counter, and we are packing things for her when in walks an Isle au Haut fisherman—a nice man but inclined to drink too much, which was the case that day.  He sauntered up next to the lady, sort of looked her up and down and decided to grab onto her in a desirable place.  She would have none of this and proceeded to give him a backhander that sent him flying straight into the pyramid of canned milk.  Jasper and I just stood there in horror and amazement as we watched the scene play out.  She stormed out of the store without her groceries, swearing like a pirate.  He was busy trying to extricate himself from a floor full of cans, and Ted was out back somewhere oblivious to the whole thing.

All our hard work was now strewn all over the floor, and we had no choice but to put it all back together.  I don’t imagine we thought the episode was funny at all back then, but today I get a chuckle whenever I think of it.

Montelle L. “Monty” Small

July 2014 

[Ed. Note:  Ted Boyce’s store was where the current Boyce’s Motel is; Jack Treneer’s store, in the photo, was from an earlier era.]

Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society ✦ P O Box 652 ✦ Deer Isle,  ME  04627 ✦ 207-348-6400