Vignette from an interview with Harold Gibson, conducted January 31, 1984 by Ann Quinn. (Edited by O.H.I.O. volunteer Sara Balogh in June 1994.)

Harold Gibson, born in 1922, is a third generation member of the Gibson family, which has owned and managed Gibson's Food Mart & Grocery from 1885 to the present. His grandfather, Orcemus Cass, married Hannah Zephyr Comstock and together in 1885, they started a pie shop that was located two storefronts east of the present location of Gibson's. In 1905, Harold's father, Burt, and his father's brother, Cass, expanded the shop into "the wholesale, retail bakery, candy, and ice cream business". Harold's involvement with the business was as a teenager during the Great Depression and as a joint owner from 1946 (after his discharge from the Marine Corps) until 1964 when he sold out his interest in the store. His memories encompass this time frame:

"In Junior and Senior High, I delivered rolls and bread from our wholesale bakery to most of the dorms in town. These included Johnson House out on South Professor, Lord Cottage, Dascomb, Talcott, May Cottage, Tank Hall, and the Quadrangle which was a big dorm that fed a lot of people from smaller dorms. The Quad was a part of the School of Theology when I did this during the depression. Any retailer in town then had to pull in his horns, and if you were a food store, destitute people would come in and ask for something. In those days, Route 20 (which is now south of town) came straight through town past the old Carnegie Library, the Theology and First Church. A tremendous number of people were on the move using that route, which went from Boston to the Rockies. Maybe as many as one hundred a day would come in and ask for any day-old products we had. The most devastating thing I can recall was one night when Dad was about to close up, a young couple with a baby wrapped in newspapers came in and asked for something to eat. There were droplets of blood coming out of the man's feet where his soles had worn through and that's how he was getting to Chicago. Dad gave him something to eat in the store and also something to take along.

I was 24 in 1946 when I came back into the store as a co-owner. We enjoyed good business, but we worked very, very hard; seventy to eighty hours a week. That was twice the number of hours the normal person was working then. However, in Oberlin you have to do several things. You have to build a working trade outside the corporate limits. You have to pull from Lorain, Elyria, and Wellington. In other words, you have to build a base so that when the students and professors leave on summer break and other times, you have the base cost of running the business. Just to keep stability going, we should have a third of our business from out of town, a third from the town itself, and a third from the students and professors. So, that's really all I can tell you about my association with the store."

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