The man in the window to the right is Francis V. Rury, present proprietor of Rury's Food Store, who returned to Cherry Valley, New York to help his father run it, in addition to driving a school bus, when he returned from his service as a radio operator in the US Navy during WW II. His father is long gone, as are his regular customers, local farmers who used to crowd the place, so now things are kind of quiet, just how he likes it, so he can spend time with the sight seers like me, who stop in to to check out this most anachronistic of establishments.
For me, it might have been just another stop on my cross section of the American experience, but for one thing. In the course of our conversation, Francis V. Rury,
happened to mention that after his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he was deposited in Lido Beach, NY, a spit of sand on the south shore of Long Island, not far from where I grew up, and was given carfare to make it back to Cherry Valley, which was no easy task in those days. Given the deplorable state of public transportation today, it would have been an even more daunting task. But make it home he did, raised a family, and has never left, still operating the store. While I was there, his son, a retired school teacher about my age, was sweeping the floor.
What makes this story resonate for me, was the fact that my father, Felix Shapiro, was also in the US Navy during WW II, a source of great pride for him, but about which he spoke little. One story he did like to tell, however, was that he too was deposited at the Navy installation on Lido Beach after the war, and given the proximity of the base to his home in Far Rockaway, it was assessed that he needed only a quarter to get home and that's just what he was given. Probably just enough to cover the bus rides home with enough left over for coffee and a doughnut.
Given that Far Rockaway was only a 6 or 7 miles from Lido Beach, my grand parents picked him up in their car, greatly relieved that he returned home safely from the war, unlike some sons of the Rockaways, and drove him home, allowing him to pocket the quarter. Funny; I asked him if he still had the quarter, he said no, but he wished he did.