When selling groceries becomes art

Charlie Green's store, now the Adirondack Artist's Guild. Image: Adirondack's Artist's Guild.

Sorry for the late notice on this folks, but an exhibit of artwork, historic photos, and artifacts on display at The Adirondack Artists Guild on Main Street in Saranac Lake is a wonderful reminder of how people used to buy food, and of a man who dedicated himself to providing food for the community.  Listen to the story NCPR's Todd Moe did earlier this month.

The Adirondack Almanack writes that the Guild building, itself, used to be a grocery store, called Charlie Green's Foods of Quality, and the current exhibit “The Market Show: The Guild Celebrates Charlie Green," celebrates the man who operated it for almost 60 years.

The Almanack says that what is now an art gallery was once "…lined with shelves, stocked to the ceiling with various goods. There was a long handled “grabber” used to reach items on the top shelves, knocking them down into waiting hands…"

The Almanack found a 1977 article in Adirondack Life magazine celebrating Charlie Green.  It says he encouraged people to phone in their orders, and he would fill up brown paper bags with the goods they requested.  He used a dark lead pencil to write down all the prices on the outside of the bag and tally them up without the use of a calculator or adding machine.  He hired local boys to deliver bags of groceries.

Green passed away in 1978, at the age of 92.  The Artists Guild has linked to a poem by Maurice Kenny, which includes these lines:

"Charlie Green one of the sweetest elders in town with more than a heart of gold and a smile of love, and we often wondered how he kept his private market open for business as it would seem he gave away almost as much as he sold."

Kenny goes on to describe how one day Green gave him a free quart of milk, "My gift to poetry."  As Kenny concludes, it seems apt that this man's store is now a place for art.

The exhibit closes today, but you can read more about Charlie Green, and see photos of him and his store.

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