1956 — Cornet Stores
But How Would I Dry Them?
Another Classic Leroyism
The solvent we used for thinning the paint (and for cleaning up after printing) came in a five-gallon can. So, using a funnel, we would pour the thinner into one-gallon cans that would be easier to handle on the work tables.
One day I called to order another five-gallon can of thinner, but was told they were out of stock. However, I was told, they could send me five one-gallon cans at the five-gallon price.
"Wonderful!" I thought. This batch of thinner wouldn't have to be poured from one container into another—and we would end up with five extra one-gallon cans, which could be useful around the shop.
When the thinner arrived, I asked Leroy to find a place for it while I went back to work at the drawing board. After a few minutes I heard a splashing sound—and wondered what was going on.
As I looked around the drawing board, I could see Leroy carefully pouring the thinner from the one-gallon cans into a five-gallon can. When I asked why he was doing this, he seemed puzzled by the question.
"Well, the thinner always comes in a big can," he said, "and I thought you would want this in a big can, too."
Anyway, they finally gave me a different helper—but, as things turned out, I wouldn't be with the company too much longer anyway.
I had been hearing some rumors that Joe Cornet Sr. wasn't too pleased with the way his sons were handling the business, and that he might decide to return and take over the reigns. I had only met Mr. Cornet Sr. a couple of times—and found that I didn't feel as comfortable in his presence as I did with Joe Jr. and Bob.
Furthermore, when he stopped by to look at my screen-printing operation one day, he was very noncommittal, and I couldn't tell if he was pleased with what he saw or not.
This got me to thinking that I should be looking around for something else, in case my Cornet job should suddenly come to an end.
Well, I don't know whatever happened among the Cornets because I did find another job offer rather quickly and decided to go ahead and take it. Here's what happened:
Our chief competitor in the small-town dime store business was Rasco, who had a chain of stores similar to Cornet's. I had been in a number of their stores and had noticed that they didn't have window banners of the type I had been making for Cornet, and I had heard that they were paying an outside printing company for their counter cards and other signs.
So I decided to approach them with a proposal to build them their own screen-printing department, just as I had done for Cornet. They seemed interested in the idea and said they'd get back to me in a few days. Well, three days later they called and said I could start to work the following Monday morning.
I was elated and asked what time in the morning I should be there.
Well, I showed up on Monday morning, just when they said I should—but I told them I had changed my mind and wouldn't be taking the job.
I guess you could chalk it up to being young and restless. Creating a job for myself with Rasco seemed so easy, that I thought maybe I could just go ahead and start my own business.
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