He’s been a fixture at Save More Market, as well as high school athletic events, for 50 years. But on Saturday, Everett Nelson is hanging up his apron.
On Saturday, June 27, 50 years to the day from when he started, the 66-year-old Tekamah man formally retires. To celebrate, his colleagues are asking everyone who would like to wish him well in his retirement to mail or drop off a card at Save More. A box will be located at the front of the store close to the exit door.
His address is 211 S 9th St., Apt 21, Tekamah, NE 68061.
But his work environment was a little different in 1970. The building that now houses the grocery store then was home to more than three businesses. First National Bank was at the south end and there were professional offices upstairs. The other two storefronts both were occupied by grocery stores which sat side by side, a Council Oak store and an IGA.
Nelson’s father Weir, worked for Council Oak, coming here from the store in Stanton in 1956.
Local grocer A.J. Bruce purchased both stores, and when the bank moved to its present location in the mid 70s, he turned the whole structure into one big store. Nelson remembers the main staff being Bruce and his wife Elinor, Corky Bottger, Gordon McClure, and his dad. Now Nelson and Jim Lawson are the only holdovers from Bruce’s ownership. He recalled Bruce requiring his staff to wear white shirts on Saturdays the busiest day of the week. He also got paid in cash in those days.
The downtown business climate was much different then, he said. A particular attraction was Moonlight Madness, when businesses would be open later at night. He remembers the staff, wearing pajamas to work during one of them, The T-Bones were similarly attired while making their rounds through the businesses.
Nelson said last week he’d been through seven managers and four owners, but he never gave much thought to working somewhere else.
“It was the only job I could get, because of my epilepsy,” he said.
Although the grocery business is in his blood, you can hear in his voice that he might have preferred a different line of work. Most of his mother’s family worked in the railroad industry. He still has a particular attraction to trains.
In his usual talkative manner, Nelson said he stayed with the grocery store largely because there was nowhere else to go. He said during the farm crisis of the late 1980s, business wasn’t great and he went looking for other opportunities, venturing as far as Missouri, but no one was hiring.
He said he enjoys his work, which since 1977 has included making home deliveries. Thursday will be his last day in that role.
His favorite part of the job is the people he gets to talk to.
“A lot of the people in my life have come through here,” he said.
Many of those connections will be maintained at ball games and other school events. He also plans to devote more time to his church. That part starts immediately. He’s leaving for a church camp Saturday afternoon.