Saturday, November 20, 2010
It's hard to get a good picture of Clayton - he keeps moving. Clayton is always on the go, raking needles off the roofs, cleaning gutters, clipping shrubs. When we began looking the place over last summer, it was Clayton who gave us the "nickel tour" and answered all our questions. Clayton knows where all the breakers, switches, and valves are. More importantly, he knows the history of how Emmaville was operated. To us, Clayton is the essential man.
Clayton came to Emmaville after his wife passed away in the early 90s. When the store was up and running, it was Clayton who came in and got the coffee going, and organized the retiree brigade who assembled the morning newspapers to ready them for sale. When former owner Cal Jensen got sick, Clayton was there, helping take care of business and Cal. When Emmaville closed two years ago, Clayton stayed on to keep an eye on things. Clayton has been there when no one else was, somehow keeping Emmaville alive.
Emmaville has lots of local fans, many of whom have stopped in to thank us effusively for getting the store up and running again and to wish us well. They've given us lots of assurances that the place used to do a booming business and will again. But Emmaville's biggest booster is Clayton. Clayton believes in Emmaville, and, we hope, in us.
When we showed up the day before deer season as new owners, Clayton had all the motel rooms ready for the guests, and the campers checked in. He made sure everyone was accommodated and we were lined out with keys to all the buildings, then he headed south for the winter, as he does every year. He doesn't go far - just to southern Minnesota where his kids live.
Clayton will be back in late April or early May to check on us and resume his duties as coffee maker, handyman and storyteller. We look forward to helping him celebrate his 89th birthday in June.