Northern New York Newspapers
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Tue., Sep. 1
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Over Coffee With Ellen


HANNAFORD COUNTDOWN – There is a countdown now underway at Hannaford’s by my Countdown King Jeff McCallus. A manager at the store first told me about the McCallus Countdown, which I had not heard about at that point. “Twelve Working Days,” was the response by Hannaford’s Manager of Customer Service Jeff McCallus, when I asked him about the upcoming May 17 date. This McCallus Countdown refers to Jeff’s retirement date, I was told. The “working days” are the number of days remaining until Jeff leaves his familiar post at Hannaford’s.

The Countdowns until Christmas (which began the day after the previous celebration) were fun with anticipation for the upcoming date. This current countdown, though, no one (but perhaps Jeff and his family) wants to have it reach its conclusion.

Although I understand the reasons why and I am happy for Jeff – there was sadness when I learned the upcoming retirement date had been set and was now closer than I might wish it to be.

On a recent trip through the checkout aisle we visited briefly as Jeff placed my groceries in my cart. He has worked at Hannaford’s 16 and three quarter years, I was told. “I actually came here intending to do nothing but cashier,” Jeff said. The cashier, though, found himself in a managerial role. As long as that managerial role left him time to address the needs of the customers that seemed to be a very good thing.

Jeff is married and lives in Massena. He and his wife Rachel have two sons: Jeffery, Jr. lives in Massena and Justin is serving in the Air Force in California. Massena is Rachel’s hometown while Jeff was originally from Pennsylvania, he said.

Jeff told me that he loves to travel and will probably do some traveling in his retirement – and gardening, too. As we began to discuss his gardening endeavors, a cashier nearby mentioned Jeff enjoys recipes. “I love to cook,” he said, adding “my wife loves it, too.” He also enjoys his church, adding, “I probably will be active with church work.” From the discussion, it certainly sounds like retirement to Jeff means a change of occupations, not the ending of work.

“I love people,” Jeff said as the next customer arrived in need of assistance. His love for people is obvious as he smiled and visited with cashiers and customers during a recent shopping trip to Hannaford’s

There is great sadness when I think of shopping at Hannaford’s and passing through the checkout aisles without having the marvelous opportunity of exchanging the friendliest of greetings, hearing the countdown for the next big event in our lives and just visiting about life with this extraordinary gentleman.

My warmest wishes, Jeff, for a relaxing retirement, but a retirement full of rewarding activities. I wish you only the best as you begin a new phase in your life – for that is what you deserve. My heartfelt thanks for your most kind assistance and for the friendly greetings each time there was a shopping trip to Hannaford’s – and my thanks, too, for each friendly countdown – those will certainly be missed.


MUSICAL EXCELLENCE – What a joy it was last week to have had an invitation to attend two concerts at Massena Central High School. Tuesday evening I attended the Spring Instrumental Concert. And on Wednesday evening I attended the J.W. Leary Junior High School Spring Concert. Both concerts were outstanding! How impressed I was with the talent of these young people.

The MC High School Concert included performances by both the Jazz Ensemble and the Concert Band. I was so impressed by the skills and talent of these amazing musicians. The selection of music was also impressive – from an old-time favorite “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” to “The Magic of Harry Potter.” Of course one of my favorites was “Café Caliente!” I am not good with a second language, but this title I knew – “Hot Coffee!” What a perfect title and what a perfect musical performance – complete with soloists on drums, percussion, trumpet, an alto and tenor saxophone and a baritone saxophone, too!

And on Wednesday evening the students from the junior high took the stage. Again an amazing performance. On Wednesday we had the privilege of hearing the String Orchestra, the Jazz/Rock Combo, the Grade 7 Concert Band and the Grade 8 Concert Band. The talent with this group was also extraordinary. I would recommend any concert scheduled be circled on your calendar. Please plan to attend – whether you have a child attending school or not. It is certainly worth your time to attend a concert with such fine performances on the program.

My thanks to my friend and her two sons who invited me to their concerts and included me in their evening. I would encourage others who have young people involved in the music program at Massena Central to also invite a neighbor or friend to attend. You might also want to check the listing of community events and make sure the school concerts are on your agenda. I would hope each time there is a concert the young people would play to a standing room only crowd! My heartfelt thanks to each director and student who practiced and worked diligently to put on an absolutely wonderful concert last week. Isn’t the North Country a marvelous place to live and share in the accomplishments of our young people? I certainly think so.


WITH THANKS – My thanks to Fred at Sears. He is always there to lend the kindest of assistance – no matter how heavy the package that is being moved is and how difficult the job is to transfer it from his cart to the back seat of our car! He is always so positive knowing it would certainly fit in the small space allowed. And for that I am most grateful.


THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK –Working together means winning together. (Taken from the bulletin board at the J.W. Webb Agency on Main Street on a recent visit with Bob Greene. Our thanks to Bob for his most helpful concern in recent weeks.)

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