Bill & Gus


When the world is so complicated, the simple gift of friendship is within all of our hands.

∼ Maria Shriver




In our little corner of the world, we’ve often shopped at our local Farm & Fleet. (Blaine’s Farm & Fleet, to be exact).


Though traditionally catering to local farmers, over the years F & F has migrated into the general consumer market. Now after years of competing with Sears, K-Mart, Shopko etc., like many other brick and mortar stores, they face heavy competition from Amazon, and other on-line retailers. But they’re hanging in there, I’m happy to say.


We continue to shop at F & F (Farm & Fleet), though admittedly not as much as we once did. When our kids were growing up, our family visited the store every two or three weeks, looking for clothing, shoes, toys, hardware, fishing and hunting equipment as well as many other sundries. (To include chocolate covered raisins, salted peanuts and other such necessities. 😊)


We’d load up the buggy and off we’d go!


The trip was more than a shopping venture, for the kids it was a chance to check out the new items in the toy section, play with the baby ducks, chicks or other critters in the farm section, and get in a good run or two. For Mom it was a chance to see the latest F & F fashions and housewares, and of course Dad would always find something the vehicles were in need of, if not the tackle box.  😉


And after the shopping was done, a stop at one of the local burger joints was usually in order. The outing was a fun mid-week adventure for a young family on a budget.


Plenty of Company


Many of our good friends shopped there as well


Besides the local ag customers, many folks in our working-class community enjoyed shopping at Farm & Fleet. Most of my friends patronized the store, and sometimes so many of us were in there at one time it appeared to be a prearranged gathering. We’d stop and chat as if we hadn’t seen one another in months, much to the chagrin of the staff, who needed to keep the customers flowing.


Two co-workers of mine regularly shopped at F & F, and it seemed as if they were always there when we were; and of course, there’d be another long gab fest when we bumped into them…again aggravating the staff trying to keep folks in motion.





Gus and I worked together for many years in the engineering department of a medium sized manufacturing facility. Gus, originally from Germany, was a tool designer. He had a quiet disposition, though quick-witted and not just a tad mischievous.


Gus was an astute observer of human nature with a bag of witticisms for most any situation that might pop up day to day. Being quite self-sufficient he always had a large vegetable garden, along with a well-stocked chicken coop, with young layers providing eggs, and the rest of the unlucky brood providing dinner. Gus patrolled the aisles of F & F in search of trinkets and supplies for his various projects.. and people for his philosophy.





Bill and I worked together at another nearby company for a few years. Bill was a soft-spoken, gentle soul, who had a way of speaking that was soothing and appealing. An older fellow when I knew him, Bill had no dynamic hobbies or eccentricities, but nevertheless, people just enjoyed hearing him talk, and often gathered nearby just to listen. I don’t think Bill ever got angry at anyone, nor did anyone ever get angry with Bill.


Bill loved F & F also, and I was always happy when I bumped into him there. Stressed out store clerks would stop and listen to Bill, even if he was just talking about the price of fertilizer, they seldom fussed about gatherings around Bill. He had that hypnotic effect on everyone, I believe he would have made a fine preacher or even a politician. (Though he had not one devious bone in his body)


A near perfect evening back in those days was hauling the family to F & F, running into Bill, Gus and other friends, then hitting the burger joint before heading home.


Strange though it seems, I never ran into Gus and Bill at the same time in the store, but I always felt compelled to introduce the two. (Though it never came to pass)


But I’ll take a shot, as to how that conversation might have gone:


Gus, grinning as always.


“Do you like working with Joe?”


Bill, laughing.


“I do, we’ve had so many interesting conversations. He’s told me a little about you. Bavaria’s a beautiful part of Germany, you must miss it a little.”




“They ran out of pretzels and beer.”


Bill chuckling.


“I understand you have a wonderful garden”.


Gus, smiling from ear to ear


“All it takes is elbow grease and duck manure.”


Bill, still chuckling.


“Elbow grease I can supply, the duck manure will have to be imported. Take a walk down the candy aisle, the chocolate covered raisins are two for one this week, it was so nice to meet you Gustav.”


Gus, now looking back


“Danke Wilhelm”!





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About the Author

Joe Campolo Jr.

Joe Campolo, Jr. is an award winning author, poet and public speaker. A Vietnam War Veteran, Joe writes and speaks about the war and many other topics. See the "Author Page" of this website for more information on Joe. Guest writers on Joe's blogs will have a short bio with each article. Select blogs by category and enjoy the many other articles available here. Joe's popular books are available thru Amazon, this website, and many other on-line book stores.


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