Family Stories: “Free samples”

Introduction

Nicola “Nick” Muro, 1950s.

I thought it would be a nice change of pace to share some very short stories that are finally being attached to the family members of the Serrapede-Muro Family tree.   I began writing down the stories in 2013.  They vary in tone and content.  Some are vivid, others more a recall of an event so long ago.  All are recorded in a manner that I hope conveys something of the people in the story.  The way in which each one is told also reveals a little about the person telling the story, too.

The following story is about my maternal Great Grandfather Nick Muro.  He ran a small grocery store located on the ground floor of the building he owned on State Street in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania.

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Family Story:  “Free Samples”

Time Period:  Late 1940s to mid 1950s

Location:  Wilmerding, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA

Summary:  Nick’s attempts to attract new customers doesn’t work out as he expected.

Nick was a very generous man.  He had a kind heart, too.  If anyone from the plant(1) was laid off or had a decrease in hours they often experienced hardship.  Nick would extend credit to them when they came to buy groceries.

One customer, though, took advantage of Nick’s kindness.  This customer’s wife came into the store and told Nick not to give her husband credit.  “The money he saves here, he drinks away at the bar,” she told Nick.  Nick understood the wife and put up a sign that said, “Do not give any credit to Mr. _____.”  When the other shopkeepers heard the story in private from Nick, they also refused to give this man any credit.

Nick wanted to get more customers into his store so he had his wife Rose cook up some dishes using the fresh vegetables he was getting into the store.  Corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions–all were made into tasty dishes which Nick put out for anyone to try.

Many people started coming in first on their own, then with their children.  Rose told Nick, “We should open a restaurant if you’re tired of the grocery business.  What’s going on here?”

Nick told Rose he wanted to extend the experiment a little longer.  When no new customers resulted from this promotion he stopped offering the free samples.  None of the people who had come to eat at the store came back to buy groceries from him.

 

—As told to EmilyAnn Frances May  by one of Nick’s grandsons, who is still living in Brooklyn, on January 9, 2016.  His mother Filomena was the daughter of Nick by his first wife Letizia.

 

(1) WABCo (Westinghouse Air Brake Co.)

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