Each week, many of our residents meet for Creative Writing Group with Lisa McKenzie. The class offers a creative outlet and the opportunity to flex their writing muscles.
This month, we’d like to highlight a touching short story written by Ida Zinam.
Put it on the Tab, Mr. Joe
Our Dad was a boxer and wrestler, a Lightweight Champion of the South. But when I was a child, he was noted for his store, “Dattlo’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.” He would pass out small samples of cantaloupe one day, pear or honeydew melon the next.
Like so many others, Dad lost a fortune when the stock market crashed. If I told you the sum, you wouldn’t believe me. Throughout the Great Depression, we six kids were no longer able to go to the movies every Saturday, nor could Mom buy us all new clothes at Christmas and Easter.
One night at dinner Dad announced that the McCarry boy had been in the store. When Dad added up the total of his meager purchases, the boy just said, “Put it on the tab, Mr. Joe.”
This became a common practice. Some families would drop by occasionally to pay down their tab, but other customers simply couldn’t. Parents too ashamed to ask outright for charity just sent their children to do their shopping.
Years after my father retired, Vincente McCarry sought him out. “Remember how, after you’d bagged the produce, I’d say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Joe, put it on the tab’? Mom always found extra beans, some ripe bananas or a couple of apples in the bag. Well, I’ve come to pay off the tab.”
My father said, “Listen, we all have tabs in heaven. Let it go at that.”
“OK, Mr. Joe, I won’t quibble. I’ll just pass it on.”