As a longtime resident of this community and historian along with my sidekicks Chuck Mathieu and Nancy Wright, most everyday we are at our history center going through stacks and stacks of old papers, scrapbooks people bring in, and an occasional hard artifact. We often talk about people and what businesses they were in, and how long they may have been in that business. Of course, most farmers work until the day they pass, but many business people work until a retirement at age 60, 65 or 70 and head to the golf course or to the south to winter.
Before those mentioned in this article my father Everett Jones probably had one of the longest work records in the same occupations. He worked for Churubusco Bank for 60 years, retiring at age 80 in 1988.
Current business people still at it that we know about are Bob Egolf, Dick Conrow, Bob Allman, Norm Decker and Judy Myers — all business owners and working in the same occupation for over 50 years.
Well, as Bob Egolf says, “I don’t know what else to do and don’t know much about anything else.” Well, we all know that is not true, but Bob has 62 years in the grocery business, starting at Honest John Shelton’s on North Main Street when he was 13 years old. Sorry, I just gave away your age, Bob. Over the years he has hired several hundred teenagers from this area, giving them their first job. Chuck Mathieu, the brain trust at the history center, worked for and with Bob for 47 years. Bob says one reason he keeps going is that when he leaves at night, he can take a dozen donuts from the bakery and not have to pay for them.
Dick has been a toolmaker since 1960, so that puts him over 55 years in the same occupation. I do a little hobby woodwork and told Dick I deal in inches and feet. He deals in millimeters, microns and hair tolerance levels that most of us can’t relate to, but Dick has hired a lot of people in this community and given them many years of steady employment. Six-hundred employees strong and never has had a layoff time for his employees. His company, C&A Tool, has hundreds of connections and does business all over the world.
Bob Allman started with Jim Kirtley in 1957 and has been printing and publishing for 59 years. I asked him why he keeps working, and he says Linda tells him she doesn’t want to see him for lunch, or before 6 p.m. in the evening. Those who know Bob understand Linda’s concerns.
Norm, who is a Vietnam veteran, came to Churubusco in 1965 and has been barbering now for 51 years. You should stop and see the fantastic shaving mug collection Norm has accumulated over those years. The price for a haircut in 1965 was $1.25. Now, he will chop your locks for $8.
Judy Myers and her deceased husband Max purchased the Tastee Freeze, now called The Magic Wand, in 1964. According to my math, that is 52 years she has worked in the restaurant business and is still helping her grandson, David Hill, who now owns the business, working three days a week. She’s the best hamburger flipper that I know and to watch her work behind that grill, you would think she was 20 years old. The Wand has also given many young people their start in the work world.
Anyway, I apologize for those who I missed, so let Chuck Mathieu, Nancy or I know if you are one that was missed.
The History Center is open Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
— Chuck Jones