Veteran Buys a Grocery Store After the Second World War

I returned home in 1946, after
almost four years in the Army, a veteran of the second World War. The experiences I had left me bitter with the
world. I had decided I would stop to visit Mom and Dad before going on to a big
city to live. I wasn’t in the mood for working. I was going to join the 52-20
club. The government was paying the veterans $20 a week for up to 52 weeks
while adjusting to civilian life. I was aiming for the full amount.

My brother had come home after
serving almost four years in England
and purchased one of the grocery stores in a small north-west Kansas town. His meat cutter suddenly quit
to go to Oregon.
I agreed to help him out for a few weeks. After I was there about six weeks, my
brother left for the day. When he came back he told me he had a job and was
leaving the grocery store.

I asked, “Who’s going to buy
the store?”

He replied, “You are!”

I said, “With what? I don’t
have a hundred dollars to my name.”

A few evenings later I was in the
local tavern with a friend who always bought the beer for us. He asked me,
“What are you going to do about buying the store?”

I said, “Nothing. I talked to
the banker about a loan and he told me, ‘I won’t loan you any money on the
store. It is too risky. If you were buying cattle, I would make you a loan.’ It
looks as if I will be out of a job.”

He asked, “How much money
would you need to buy it?” I told him the figure.

As the evening went on I was visiting with a man next to me.
My friend was busy writing a check, which I thought was for more beer money. He
tore the check out and nudged me in the ribs, and when I turned around he
handed me the check. I said, “What is this?”

He said, “Look at it.” I
looked and was astonished to see that it was for the amount I needed to buy the

He would not draw up a promissory
note: he said he knew I would pay him back. He was a friend indeed. 

Ivan French
Mercedes, Texas

Back in 1955 a call
went out from the editors of the then Capper’s
asking for readers to send
in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early
settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from
grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were
received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first
Folks title – My Folks Came in a
Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine
other books have since been published in the
My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to
make those stories available to our growing online community.