Passing of an era
Old grocery provided first jobs for many young men, women.

By IDA CHIPMAN
Tribune Correspondent

PLYMOUTH — Sandy Holland went downtown to see the demolition of the old grocery store in the G&G Plaza on Garro Street.

She stood in front of the rubble that had once been her checkout station.

“It’s sad in a way,” she said. “The last downtown grocery store is gone.”

Sandy started work there when she was 18. She got married, raised her kids and went back in 1980 for five years.

She still works in the grocery business, “doing a lot of things” now at Martin’s Super Market in Plymouth.

Closed for the last 23 years, the G&G Supermarket had a 70-year history of serving customers in the Plymouth area.

The store was first started in 1916, by Charles H. Glaub, father of Walt and Chuck.

Chuck’s mother died when he was 8 days old. At 10, he started working in the grocery with his dad, stepmother Anna and his brother, Walt.

Charles Sr. died unexpectedly in 1938, and the remaining three family members took over the business.

Some years later, after several moves, Chuck bought 17 houses between Garro and River streets, and he and Walt built the G&G Supermarket.

A large magnolia tree stands in the middle of the parking lot, planted there in 1944, by Vada Musser Reiff and her mother, Irene, in memory of her father, Rufus.

Chuck promised Vada that the tree would be preserved and, in 2005, it was designated as a Plymouth Landmark Tree.

Jack Greenlee, the oldest living employee of the store, worked for the Glaubs for almost 40 years.

Now 79, Jack started as a stock and bag boy at the store located then on Michigan Street, where the new Vine restaurant is now, for 50 cents an hour.

“I was in high school,” Jack said, “and had a job at Kroger’s down the street. I was making 25 cents an hour.”

A friend, Gene Gurthet, worked at G&G and got Walt Glaub to offer Jack 40 cents an hour.

Henry Price, manager of Kroger’s, matched it, and Walt went to 50 cents.

“Take it,” Henry said. “You’re not that damn good!”

Turns out that Jack really was that good.

After serving in the Army in the Korean War, he eventually worked up to general manager, overseeing more than 30 employees at G&G.

He remembers the Big Flood of 1953, when he and Chuck tried to shore up the basement with sand bags.

“After a futile struggle, Chuck said, ‘we’d better get out,’ just minutes before the walls collapsed behind us.”

If you like stories, Jack has more.

He recalled one shoplifter who tried to smuggle a ham out between her knees.

“She waddled out of the store,” he said. “I went outside, stood beside her and asked what she was doing.”

He kept her talking … as the ham shifted slowly down her legs. The sheriff, Jack’s brother Jerry, got there to catch her with the “hot” ham.

Jack recalls being propositioned by one lady customer. It scared him so badly he told her to “go home and read her Bible” before he himself scurried to tell his wife, Jenny, about the experience.

Some of the carryout boys (Jim Manuwal, Jack Ransom, Phil Schultz, Terry Paxton, Gene DeMien, Mike and Dick Bergman and Jamie Greenlee) would have a euchre game after work.

They have recently decided to get together and reinstate the game.

Dave Gibson, now the CEO of Gibson Insurance, was the first male checkout person.

“I had to put him there,” Jack said. “He wasn’t any good anywhere else.”

Another local businessman (who shall remain anonymous) started his career at the G&G.

He first worked in the meat department but, after nearly severing a finger cutting pork chops, was moved to fruits and vegetables.

That was fine, until Walt caught him and the preacher’s daughter “making out” in the cooler.

That wasn’t exactly what they had in mind when they moved him to Produce.

The Apple Sisters, two special-needs women widely referred to as “Corey” and “Seedy,” would run into the store for shelter when kids were harassing and throwing stones at them.

Jack always chased the pack off, admonishing them about making fun of other people.

All of the Glaub kids — and many of their contemporaries in high school — worked at the G& G.

If you were in the group that went TPing with Andy, the youngest son of Chuck and Helen, you were lucky.

There were hundreds of rolls of toilet paper to use. Andy would back up his car to the back door and load up with ammunition.

After a series of financial problems, the store shut its doors in 1986.

Last year, the city of Plymouth, closed the deal to buy the property, designated as being in the flood plain and unavailable for any building purposes.

The Jackson Demolition and Excavating Service of Rochester demolished the store.

The property will be turned into a city park. The Farmer’s Market will use the spaces in the spring and summer months and children will be able to play on its grassy surfaces.

The park will be a worthy tribute to the Glaub family.

The grocery dispensed high-quality food to the citizens of Plymouth and provided the first jobs for many city and county officials — township trustees, city council members and mayors.

Chuck’s father, Charles Sr., was mayor from 1926 to 1930. Chuck himself served a record-setting five terms as mayor from 1967 to 1982. He died in 2003.

Jack Greenlee also served as mayor of Plymouth from 1992 to 2000.

That’s quite a legacy for any small-town grocery. People won’t forget the G&G.

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