Funny how when you read about someone it brings back an entire grocery store of memories. That happened this week when I read about the retirement of Luke Kenley from the Indiana State Senate.
You see it was in the fall of 1971 when I was 16 years old that I applied for a job at Kenley’s Supermarket on South Tenth Street in Noblesville. I was a cashier for two years, until college.
Back then they had a Quick Check for people who had 10 items or less (and who paid attention to the sign . . . no more than 10 items). I would tap the keys on the cash register and hit the large + key and then the total. When the customer gave me the cash I would then have to count out the change. No scanners and no automatic calculations on the register back then. No debit or credit cards.
I enjoyed my job earning just under $2.00 an hour. That was minimum wage back then.
We earned raises for a job well done.
To this day I can figure change quickly when I am given the total of what I have purchased. While I usually use a debit card, I am amazed at the clerks who struggle to make change when cash is given as a payment.
My ex-husband worked there as did Emily and Brandon and even my mother. Mom was the popular lady who handed out the food samples. It was definitely a place where families worked.
I think many of us who grew up in Noblesville had our first job at Kenley’s Supermarket. The men wore white shirts and ties and the women wore blue smocks.
It was definitely a different time back then.
I remember the first time that I asked Howard for a job he told me that they did not have an opening. I was persistent. The day a friend told Howard and the head cashier, Helen Monihan, that she was quitting I went back and asked and was hired.
Most days after school and on Saturdays I’d be there. Oh the stories I could tell. Funny stories and not so funny stories. Lifetime friendships. Work ethics learned. Five star customer service because people really cared.
I worked for Luke when he took over for his dad. He was always fair and good to his employees. What a lot of people do not know is the generosity of the Kenley family.
At Christmastime, we loaded up grocery bags full of food and after work one evening we all climbed into cars and took them to families that would not have had much for Christmas, if anything. I’ll never forget walking into a home on the river which was not much more than a tiny shack filled with several little kids. I knew then just how Santa must have felt.
I remember Sally, Luke’s wife, coming in to shop when their boys were toddlers. John would be dressed in red and Bill in blue. Funny the things you remember.
I will never forget the blizzard of 1978 when Luke opened the store to all who could walk there.
I also remember the day that Kenley’s closed. It was a sad day. I was there. Every good thing must come to an end. I still struggle to go into the big box stores to buy our groceries.
The thing about the Kenley family is that they always left a good legacy in all their endeavors. I do know that Noblesville and the state of Indiana will always be better because of him and his family. Thanks Luke. Thanks Kenley family. I sure enjoyed my walk down the aisles of memory lane.