Coffee Shop Musings: Contentment

Coffee shop musings: Contentment

By Bob Hodge

Neil Young “Comes a Time” album of that moment.
On that turntable and console with the 8 track.

It is an icy cold January morning 1979. I hop in my 69 Mustang and turn it over it shivers to a start—sweet. So many clunkers over the years and in the future.

I am wearing the heavy cord pants dark green —construction boots a red plaid flannel shirt and a navy pea coat—all bought in used clothing stores in Boston.

I got a black knit cap in my pocket.

My breath steams out fogging the window the Mustang shakes and snorts to life. I sit for a few minutes going through my day since waking up that morning.

A quick cup of coffee— pull my running gear off the drying rack in the tiny bathroom grab a pair of skivvies for an extra layer on this single digits temp day.

A tiny apartment but all mine three rooms upstairs in a house three miles from my job in Hanover MA.

A quick six miler cold as a witch’s tit. Autopilot like brushing your teeth. Home for a shower and quick breakfast– Quaker Oats and a banana.

I have been employed at the RUNNERY a running and tennis shoe emporium operated by my friend and shoe magnate Sharpless Jones and his partner Stevie Calder.

I had caught this running bug in high school—track & Field, cross country running— along with many others at this time, it seems a running boom was happening which made a small business like the RUNNERY practically a going concern.

I have arrived in Hanover in April of 1978 after a ten month journey around the country with my Lowell MA hometown friend Ronnie. The journey had no specific mission only to have an adventure and escape that adulthood just put it off at least like “son, what you going to do with your life?”

For me the running bug became a high grade fever and really even the most accomplished runners in the world why are they in this crazy sport for a few minutes of fame? Truth was you could scrape by if a shoe company hired you as some type of consultant and you were making some appearance fees from race directors—all against the amateur sport rules.

The Boston Marathon was my holy grail.

It made no sense to me but neither did anything else.

For a few months before coming to Hanover for good I worked in a real kick ass shoe company in Lowell where you busted your ass working in the hot dirty glue smelling conditions for minimum wage.

Working at the store seemed like hardly working in comparison and though I spent many hours working Sharp and Stevie let me head out for my two runs a day and we ended up having some of the loyal customers joining me on many of those runs. I felt like a cult leader.

Sharp was a man with many ideas hopes and dreams plans and schemes and one was a re soling operation he got started buying the equipment from a regular cobbler guy and sending me to work with him so I could learn how it was done.

It became a nice side business as long as we stayed in our lane and didn’t take on the many types of shoes that I could not re sole due to my rudimentary skills and equipment.

Today I was making my weekly trip to Boston, Wellesley and Cambridge to pick up shoes at other running stores and take them back to the RUNNERY for re soling to be returned the following week.

I pulled my boss car out of the driveway and hit the road stopping at the Bill Rodgers Running Center for a pick up and then heading to New Balance in Brighton for a noon time run. NB was giving me equipment then and just recently put me on a monthly stipend that enabled me to afford my apartment.

Seems whatever I did with this running —shoes would be involved.

We went for a ten mile run out along the Charles River came back had a quick shower and some pizza before heading to Cambridge Marathon Sports and the Nike Wellesley shop. After that it was back down to the South Shore getting home when it was already dark I changed and ran the same six miler I had run 10 hours earlier still cold and icy.

I got home put the oven on and shoved one of those frozen pot pies and a few potatoes to bake I then hit the living room and turned on my little portable black and white television to watch the news.

One night after another while following this similar routine I fell dead asleep on the floor in front of the TV and woke to the smoke alarm going off with my burning pot pie smoking out the kitchen.

I opened the windows and salvaged my pie with burnt up crust and dumped it in a big Jethro Bodine bowl mashed up the potatoes added some butter salt and pepper and voila.

And mercy me one bottle of Heineken hanging out at the back of the fridge.

A wicked perfect friggin day.

Contentment—-This is how I knew it —take it where you find it.

Side note:

There was more discovering the South Shore of MA me and Stevie aka fishman city boys from Lowell.

Weekend beach ride on Duxbury Beach with fishman in his new CJ Jeep.

Stevie joined the running cult as well after driving me to a race in Cohasset MA where I won the race and dinner including Champagne.

One Response to Coffee Shop Musings: Contentment

  1. Charles Gargiulo says:

    It’s so great to join Bob back in time to experience his life as an elite runner. I remember when my son and I used to follow the exploits of Lowell’s own Acre guy competing at the highest levels in the Boston Marathon and so many others. Hearing Bob’s dedication to running (two six mile runs a day for instance) reminded me of the hard work and dedication Charlie Jr. gave to the sport, and it’s cool to get to meet Bob after all these years knowing he was a hero to my son. I wish I had half the guts that Bob and Charlie Jr. did. Distance runners are the toughest people I know.

    I strongly recommend readers to get a copy of Bob Hodge’s great book “Tales of the Time: A Runner’s Story.” You get to experience the thrill or long distance running vicariously without having to suffer doing the real thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *