Little boy in the truck
From the 1930s to right before World War II, Economy's Fruit had a delivery truck that would deliver fruit and produce on a weekly basis to the communities of South Thomaston, St George, Tenants Harbor, Port Clyde, and Spruce Head. No deliveries were made from 1942 to 1946.
In the spring of 1947, Economy's Fruit bought a brand new Dodge delivery van to start up the delivery services to the above communities.
My step-brother and Economy Fruits owner, Christy Demetri had a false floor installed in the truck that would hold cases of beer. During that period beer and ale was sold only in Rockland and not in towns that we provided service. And selling beer and ale from a truck was against the law.
I remember our first delivery run of that era. John Brown, my mentor, and longtime employee of Economy's Fruit became the driver of the truck. Ken Conway, another employee of Economy's Fruit, became a sub driver. Both John and Ken could speak Finnish and Swedish as the population of our delivery communities had many Finnish and Swedish families. The granite quarrys of St. George employed many workers of Finnish and Swedish decent. John's understanding of the languages made selling a lot easier.
About a month before of our delivery service, Economy's Fruit posted a weekly ad in our local paper, The Courier-Gazette, had a sign made up for a bulletin notice at the store to announce the service.
The response was amazing, enough so, that John Brown thought two trips weekly was going to be needed instead of once.
The items that were available for the delivery truck included fruit, like bananas, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, apples, peaches and plums. And then included were secondary items like cigarettes, cigars, snuff, candy bars and boxes of chocolate cherries, a favorite seller. Then of course there was a full layer of not advertised beer and ale cans in the false floor of the truck.
That summer as a 12 year old, it was fun to ride and help the Economy delivery truck. John Brown, as I stated, became my mentor while I was spending time at Economy's Fruit. He was a World War I Army veteran and would tell tales about his experience of being an 18-year-old Army veteran spending a month in a fox hole in France and never seeing a German as the war was ending. Knowing that I grew up without a father, John was always saying he was filling the gap about life in general and when he was speaking he would always say "are you listening to me?" with a smile. John who was never married looked at me as a grandson from the time I was 10 until I was 18.
I got to know the area and the people the two years the store offered the summer delivery service. What happened as time went on, once word got out that we had beer and ale, there was more call from customers for beer and ale than fruit. Being against the law and before we got caught, we discontinued the beer and ale service, and you can guess what happened. We could not sell enough fruit and secondary items to make the service profitable and the Economy's Fruit delivery service came to an end in the fall of 1948.
Now this story has a happy ending. Sixty years later, for reasons that I will not indulge in, my wife and I moved to St George. Every once in a while, I will meet an eldery person or persons in the St. George, Tenants Harbor, Port Clyde area at a civic or social function. Once they hear or see my name they say, "I remember the Economy Fruit delivery service to the area."
And I would say, with a smile "I was the little boy in the truck."
This story is written in the memory of John Brown, who became a very dear friend and my mentor.