It’s been a little over seven years since Olen Googe died at the age of 80. For newcomers to our community, Olen Googe is the namesake of Googes, Inc.
Before his sons took over the operation of the convenience store, it was called Googe’s Superette. Notice that Googe’s in Googe’s Superette is singular and Googes, Inc. is plural.
But the history of the popular store is not what I sat down to write about. Instead, it is the likeable sense of humor Mr. Googe had toward his customers, in particular me.
As a young boy, I followed around in my father’s footsteps, awed by his talent for fixing things. Making things. Improving things. Solving problems with which things presented him. He did not earn a high school diploma, dropping out of school in the ninth grade. But he was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known.
As I grew up and became a man myself, I tried hard to emulate his skills, but to this day I’m not even close to his talents. Not because I haven’t been trying. I’ve taken on myriad projects over my decades as an adult — succeeding at some and failing at most. Many times, failing miserably.
Olen Googe recognized early on that I was doing things at my home that were not normal for a newspaper editor. He noticed because I was always going into Googe’s (Superette, at the time) picking up supplies for tasks I was attempting at home.
“Well, I didn’t know you were an electrician,” he said when I came in to purchase electrical supplies for one of my projects.
“Well, I didn’t know you were a plumber,” he said with a grin as I was buying supplies to work on my sprinkler system, a system I had installed myself.
“Well, let’s see,” he said during one trip, “you’re an electrician, a plumber and now you’re doing carpentry work.”
Sometimes I’d come into the store and it wasn’t obvious what task I was doing.
“What are you doing today?” he asked.
“Re-shingling my roof,” I replied, which produced a wide grin from the patriarch of the Googe family.
I’ve tackled a lot of other skills for which I am woefully incapable, the latest of which is installing a vinyl fence. Martin Corbitt of Corbitt Vinyl, from whom I purchased the fence, told me, “After you’ve put up two panels, you’re an expert.”
Well, I’ve now put up six panels and I still don’t know what I’m doing.
Olen Googe would be grinning if he knew. In fact, he may well be grinning now.