It all makes sense now:
In 1974, a few years after graduating from high school, my first wife and I visited one of my closest friends who had recently moved to Columbus, Ohio. It was the weekend just before Thanksgiving.
My friend had been my best man at our wedding, and we hadn’t seen him and his wife since they moved from Michigan to begin his teaching career in Columbus. What I wasn’t expecting was the importance of a traditional college football game played the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving weekend.
I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in a sleepy, but growing like crazy little town – Livonia, Michigan. I was raised following the sports teams of Detroit, especially the great hockey team of the Detroit Red Wings. Of course, there was a baseball team, a football team, and a basketball team. But, the Tigers, Lions, and Pistons were not nearly as important as the Red Wings to me.
What I wasn’t expecting, was this major sports rivalry that changed and super-charged every person in Columbus, Ohio dramatically one weekend a year: The Ohio State vs University of Michigan football game!
I had never even heard of this game or how important it was to the citizens of Columbus and Ann Arbor. Apparently, I was the only human being born in the state of Michigan that didn’t know how strong the rivalry there was between these two universities. Apparently, you had to choose at birth which team you were committed too, for life!!
So, when we found ourselves at my friend’s apartment that magical weekend before Thanksgiving, we had no idea how much this game meant. We found a seat on the couch and witnessed our friends come undone whenever the Buckeyes scored a touchdown. Even though my friends were born in Michigan, if you move to Ohio you better change your stripes from the “Amaze and Blue” to “Scarlet and Gray”, and quickly.
After returning home, my wife and I realized we didn’t have much tying us to that “State up North.” So, with little preparation and thought, we decided to move to Columbus and start a new life…the very next weekend.
Since that fateful move, a few important changes awaited me.
Realizing we weren’t really meant for each other, my first wife and I divorced after a few years of marriage. I found some success at my new grocery store and was promoted to a brand-new store where I met a cashier who I fell in love with quickly. It wasn’t long before we got married, about six months, and every part of my life changed after that.
I began a new job, worked my way up the management ladder, began a family, and moved into a new home. Leaving one company for another, I changed my career a bit. Leaving grocery store management and becoming a grocery warehouse buyer which led to a move to Fort Wayne, Indiana where I became a buyer for SuperValu, the large grocery store wholesaler. After a few years, I crossed over to the other side of the business and settled into the position as president of a local food broker, managing many grocery manufacturering clients servicing that division of SuperValu.
In the early 90’s, I began looking ahead at the changes I expected the grocery industry to drift into. In 1993 I moved my family to Cincinnati and became the president of a national sales and marketing company working with the Kroger Company and all their divisions across the nation.
We have lived in the Cincinnati area now longer than anywhere else, even my hometown in Michigan…and we love it here!
When I first moved to Columbus, I needed a job. I had spent my school years working in grocery store, so I started looking there. One of the main roads in northern Columbus is Morse Road. It is also close to where we settled. Driving west on that street from Cleveland Avenue, there were three grocery stores lined up next to each other.
I visited the managers in all those stores: Ontario Foods, Gold Circle, and Kroger. All of them offered me a job. However, the company I decided to work for was Kroger. The only grocery chain to remain in business today is the Kroger Company.
My wife and I have watched our family grow over the years. Two of our children are grown and have children of their own. We have seven wonderful grandkids ages twelve to twenty-six. My kids have turned out to be beautiful people with great spouses and wonderful careers. We also lost one of our babies to heart disease thirty-eight years ago.
Why do I tell you this story? What do I owe all this success too? How did I enrich my life so much with a great family? How did I find so much love around me? How did I stumble upon a great and varied career? How have I found so many new friends? How have I found a peace that I am where I should be?
Why? Because the starting pay at Kroger was .07 cents an hour more than those other stores.
Unbelievably, I owe my entire wonderful life to just .07 cents an hour!!