It used to snow in Concord. Well, I guess it still does snow in Concord but not as much as in the old days.
And when it did, early risers might see doors open across downtown Concord. And, if they were paying attention, they would see kids, pre-teens, emerging from houses on Lexington Road, Laurel Street and Hubbard St, not to mention houses in other neighborhoods. They were armed with shovels, not to clean off a skating rink but to shovel walkways and short driveways.
Johnny Boynton came from Lexington Road. His father was a dentist in town. He was not my dentist because I went to another dentist in town who went to Concord High School with my parents.
Van Doty was from Laurel Street. Van’s father was a local electrician who worked for himself. Van and I would seek him out to say hello after one of our many practices or games. He smoked, lots of adults smoked, and would tap the ash off his cigarette against the little “fly” window of his truck’s door as he talked to us. He was a great guy and very supportive of us.
Bernie Kelly was also from Laurel Street, a house down from Van. They worked as a team and shared profits. Bernie’s father was chief of police.
My father was a photographer who eventually owned a photo shop on Walden Street. His lineage went directly back to the founding of the town, through the Wheeler name.
Our mission was to shovel paths and work our way to Walden Street and, hopefully, get the job at the Timothy Wheeler. Why there? They paid the most money! But regardless of who made it to the Timothy Wheeler house first, we were all happy to be out making some money, not to mention competing with each other. Who could ask for anything more? Not any of us.
And then we got older. On an almost magical Christmas Eve, in 1963, we had a storm of powdery snow. It was falling and had accumulated to over six inches when my brother Bill, 16 months my junior, and I set off, on foot, for my girlfriend’s house. A night to be remembered of brotherly camaraderie, boots shuffling through and kicking up the light snow, and teenage love.
On our way home, we detoured through Anderson’s Market. The proprietor, our Uncle Dave, was cooking turkeys in the rotisserie at the front of his store. Dave never slept and worked seven days a week. It was said that, even if an atomic bomb had exploded and you were hungry, you could always get food at Anderson’s Market because it never closed!
Which brings to mind Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings at the family homestead. These gatherings were punctuated by the snoring sounds of Uncle Dave and my father who, upon arrival, would immediately select chairs and fall asleep. Both of them worked inhuman hours to meet client demands for portrait photos (we laughed that my father used shortened toothpicks in his eyelids to keep them open) and for roasts for holiday feasts. I never connected the dots until, as a 76-year-old man who had his own business, I now seek out a comfortable chair for some shut-eye.
Postscript: like all good things, Anderson’s Market came to its end … in the summer of 1978.
On an August Thursday afternoon, Uncle Dave cleared out the store except for coolers of food and other staples, covered the windows with cardboard box paper, and hired Sleepy LaBeef and his band to entertain. Sleepy, a man of large stature who dwarfed his friend Dave, started with Sun Records in the 1950’s and remained on that label until his career was over. He was reputed to have known about 6,000 songs which he would belt out in his deep, rockabilly voice. It was certainly a rare August afternoon in Concord center but a fitting end to a Concord landmark!