When I was very young, my dad, Leon Reed Hudson (10/2/1916-9/3/2008) traveled to five states and sold grocery products to grocery stores.
He was first with Sunshine Biscuits, which sold mainly crackers and cookies like Krispy Krackers (saltines) and Hydrox (like Oreos). He later went with Standard Brands, which sold Royal pudding, Fleishman’s Yeast, Chase and Sanborn Coffee, and Blue Bonnet Margarine, among other items.
Because of his job traveling several southern states, he was usually gone Monday through Friday until I was around 12 years old, when he opened Hudson’s Supermarket in Fairburn. It was the only supermarket between Newnan and College Park at that time.
Daddy was a believer in work, so I always had responsibilities. Before he opened the supermarket, he bought some used store shelves and fixtures out of an old grocery store that had gone out of business. They were stored in an old warehouse, where we spent many hours sanding them down and repainting them, getting them ready for the new store.
After the store opened, I worked there stocking shelves, cashiering, sacking groceries, and anything else that needed doing. One of my fun jobs was rolling the nickels out of the Coke machine. Yes, a 6-ounce Coke in a bottle was 5 cents. Now you are guessing how old I am.
My dad was a wise man. He could rival King Soloman in writing the book of Proverbs. My dad's "proverbs" guided my thoughts subconsciously and consciously. Daddy always kept track of my report cards. He often said, "I want you to do your best in all your subjects, but bringing home As in math is the most important.”
When I asked him why, he said, "Honey, in this old world, you've gotta know how to out-figure the other fellow before he out-figures you."
So I worked hard at math and found that I really enjoyed it. People often say that they will never use algebra but I disagree. Algebra teaches reasoning and reasoning begets common sense. And Lord knows we are running low on common sense this day and time. I wound up teaching math in middle school.
Dad was a frugal man, yet generous to a fault. He was sometimes teased for his frugality. One day, I heard a man trying to get Dad to buy something that my dad thought was extravagant and not worthy of his hard-earned money.
The man told Dad that he was happy that he himself had invested in this product and so were many other people. My dad's response was, "I am glad that all of you are happy with your investment, but I get just as much fun out of hanging onto my nickel as you do spending yours.” Yes, Dad taught me frugality and insisted that I put up a percent of the paycheck each week that I earned working at the store.
I guess every church, school, and civic organization called on dad at the supermarket for donations and I never knew him to turn one down. He donated to church building funds, placed ads in the high school's yearbooks, and when any customer's family member died, they could expect a ham at their door before the deceased got cold.
I remember him donating a sack of groceries to a cooking school for one of the door prizes that a church was putting on as a fundraiser. I went to the cooking school, and guess what I won when they started drawing for door prizes? Yep, the sack of groceries that Dad had donated.
I did not accept them because it just wouldn't have been right. And that is another one of Dad's proverbs, "Right always wins and wrong always loses.”
I miss my dad and every day I think of something that he said or did that helped me be who I am today. He was from a generation that never verbalized the "I love you" that we hear so many people say today, but he was always there for me and I never questioned if he loved me or had my best interest at heart because he made it so evident.
My dad was my hero.
Margaret Hudson Kilgore was born in LaGrange. She grew up, got married and had two children in Fairburn. She and her husband Gordon (aka Mr. Wanderlust) have lived in Sharpsburg for more than two decades.