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Etta and Piggly Wiggly

Story ID:6782
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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Etta and Piggly Wiggly
Chuck Dishno

For those of you who have never heard of Piggly-Wiggly, they were a large grocery store chain that was started in 1916 in Memphis and is credited as the first true self-service store, At one time they had over 2600 stores nationwide. Although the chain still exists they are mostly in the south and operate about 600 stores.
My grandmother, Etta, married Charles Hartman in 1896 in Missoula, Montana where they established residence. They had 3 children, my Mother, Lura, Eudora and 13 years later, George.
This story is about Etta and her second born daughter, Eudora. When Eudora was in her late teens, she worked for a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Missoula. I don’t know how long she had been working there when some of the disgruntled employees decided to stage a strike. My aunt, Eudora was coerced into participating in the strike even though it was against her wishes.
I’m not quite sure how strikes are conducted now but at that time the strikers were expected to walk a picket line around their place of employment, which in this case was the Piggly Wiggly store. I think she had been on the picket line for a few days when my grandmother, Etta, needed to get hold of her. Rather than walk several blocks to the store, she decided to try out her newly installed telephone and call the store. After going through the “central” operator she was finally connected.
She must have reached the switchboard and when they answered, she said that she would like to talk to her daughter, Eudora. The operator said that Eudora was outside picketing the store. I’m sure this meant nothing to Etta. Etta was a delightful lady who had led a very sheltered life and was raised by her widowed father since she was one year old. To put it mildly she was a bit dingy and knew almost nothing about modern life.
Etta wouldn’t take no for and answer and in desperation, asked to talk to someone in charge. The operator said that the store was very busy and there was no one available that she could think of to connect her with. Etta said that it was imperative that she talk to Eudora and if she couldn’t find anyone else, she insisted that she be connected with Mr. Piggly. This cracked up the operator and when she had composed herself she said that Mr. Piggly wasn’t available. Not to be outdone my dear little old grandmother said that if he wasn’t available, then she wanted to talk to Mr. Wiggly. At this point the operator must have given up and sent someone outside to bring in Eudora. Etta was happy that she finally got through to her daughter and the story about her persistence soon circulated through the store and even made it out to the picket line.
The strike was soon settled and Eudora went back to work, but the story of her dingy mother lived on for many years. Etta came to live with us in Bly, Oregon and stayed for almost 25 years. I remember asking about the incident but she justified it by saying that in life, if you are firm, things will eventually come to you and you will get what you want. I guess she wasn’t so dumb after all.
Etta lived to the ripe old age of 84 and is buried in Olympia, Washington next to her father. I sincerely believe she is in Heaven now and maybe she finally got to meet Mr. Piggly and Mr. Wiggly. I certainly hope so.
Etta has given me many memories and I have written several stories about this wonderful lady.