August 2001 Table
MEMORIES OF GOLDEN HARVEST
by Old Grumpy [Our Curmudgeon-at-Large]
Who would believe that you would look back with fondness on a place which
took so much of your money and usually caused you to groan when you realised you
had to go there on a Friday evening? This ambivalence became apparent to so many
people on Abaco when Golden Harvest Supermarket burned down on 17th June. We had
shopped our last in Abaco's largest food emporium and suddenly we missed
Golden Harvest was a social place in many ways. You got to know more about
acquaintances while shopping then at church. One peek into their shopping cart
and the yogurt, fruits, vegetables and whole meal bread there confirmed the
reason why they looked slimmer recently. Or that dozen packets of T-bone steaks,
indicating a celebration. Or the chips and juices indicating a pre-school
grandchild. You learned which men were secure enough in their masculinity to
shop for their wives on occasion. You learned which couples shopped
You got used to the times when certain people shopped. You noticed those
who would fill their cart with a week's supply of provisions and those who would
pop in and out every day for a few items. Thursday and Friday were Treasure Cay
days when you would meet the same TC residents in the post office, then
Solomons, then Golden Harvest. "Are you following me or am I following you?" was
the usual jest.
I learned never to say goodbye in a supermarket. After a sincere farewell
to someone you would pass them again in the next aisle, and the next one, and
the next one. Then queue up behind them at the cash register.
Golden Harvest had its own foibles. After looking for bottled marshmallow
for nearly half an hour once, I relented and asked floor manager Raymond Sands
where I might find it. "By the pasta sauces, of course," he told me. Of course!
I should have figured that out.
I will always associate Golden Harvest with the late Oswald Roberts, the
first manager of the store. I remember, many years ago, finding Oswald and a
crew of shelf-stackers taking the refrigeration doors off the displays and
checking for a dead rat. The smell was horrible and Oswald wanted it out of the
way fast. I recognised the smell immediately. I had once spent a summer in
Maastricht, Holland, which is home to the infamous Limburger cheese. That smell
was not dead rat, it was ripe Limburger cheese. I located a bottle of Limburger
that someone had opened and left the lid off. Within minutes the store was
smelling sweet again.
If what you bought at Golden Harvest proved to be damaged in some way,
there was never any hassle in bringing it back and getting a refund. The
management always seemed to appreciate you bringing to their attention the fact
that, say, a can of beans was priced at three times what it should have been.
Somehow when five pound boxes of giant shrimp were priced at $12 you were more
reluctant to point out the pricing error.
Management was always helpful. If wanted a goose for Christmas instead of
turkey, they would order it specially for you. They even hunted me down some
lamb kidneys on one occasion. I will always remember the friendly helpfulness of
Bethsheba at the meat counter and Gordon Dean overseeing the fresh
Shopping at Golden Harvest helped turn me from being an old-fashioned
gentleman into the curmudgeon I am today. Back in my sweet-tempered days I stood
in line with a full cart of food waiting to be checked out. A little Haitian
lady with one package eased in front of me and said, "Daddy, I only got one."
Figuring she would be quickly dealt with, I acquiesced to her jumping queue. Her
item was checked out and then she remembered something else she had to get. At
the other end of the store. Amazingly, with no show of embarrassment, the woman
(notice she's a woman now, not a lady) repeated the manoeuvre half a dozen
times. In the end she was satisfied with her purchases. Horror of horrors, she
then produced a brown paper bag full of pennies with the occasional nickel. The
check out girl painstakingly counted out the required sum and there was a pile
of pennies left over. Off the woman went again to make another purchase. Now she
was ten cents short and the check out girl told her to pay the full price or put
the item back. She turned sad eyes on me and I groaned and pulled out a dime for
It took me more than half an hour to get served. I imagine those who had
checked out ahead of me had cooked the food they had bought and were eating it
by now. I learned my lesson. Whenever a Haitian woman approaches me and says,
"Daddy, I only got one" I growl and in simple Saxon English tell her get to the
end of the line. Nearby tourists observe my rudeness and no doubt think I am
something of a cad to deny this poor woman with one item a quick exit. "Try that
line," I say, pushing her towards the tourists. Wicked intentions are rarely
laudable but they're often fun.
Golden Harvest was where you met people you hadn't seen in ages and caught
upon upon where they had been and what they had been doing. You learned more
about people's health in Golden Harvest than at the doctor's office. You
commiserated with them about their problems with unruly teenage children, how
hard it was to make ends meet, the current political situation, the latest local
tragedy. News was passed on, opinions voiced. The rich mixed with the poor and
paid the same prices.
Golden Harvest was much more than just a food store. It had an ambience
that the old Abaco Market never had, that the Mini Mart and Sawyer's Market do
not have. It will take a while before its replacement becomes the same sort of
social phenomenon. Everything I know about some people I learned at Golden
August 2001 Table
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August 3, 2001
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