Green ice-cream cones


If you heard “green ice-cream cones,” many would say with a big smile, “I remember when …” Anyone who lived in the town of Pagosa Springs in 1976 and for 18 years thereafter surely has eaten at least one. In the month of March, after a hard winter, the Hub would open for business and start its season by giving away a free green ice-cream cone to every school child.

It was that story and many more as a group of grownups shared their experiences working at the Hub. We enjoyed an August evening under the stars at our daughter and son-in-law’s home as the guests remembered those days working for Jane and Bob Stewart at the Hub.

If you were one of the fortunate high school students who worked for them, you learned how to show up on time and count change.

Everyone needs a Jane in his or her life. If you were five minutes late for work, you were sent home and told if you could make it on time the next day, then you were still employed.

Jane told a banker’s daughter who didn’t know how to count money, take this change and go home. Talk to your dad, not your mother. Don’t come back unless you learn how to count.

The kids put their long hair up in a ponytail. If they didn’t, they didn’t work. Jane and Bob were hard, from the old school, but they drilled home a respect in those kids whose lives were touched and are different today because of them.

Jane was in Pagosa recently and ate at a local restaurant. The girl waiting on her was so good, she told the manager she would hire 100.

The girl said, “My mother worked for Jane Stewart at the Hub.” Good work ethics trickle down.

One of the ladies, now in her 40s, said if she went for a job interview and they saw on her resume that she had worked for Jane, she was automatically hired.

Three of our children worked for the Stewarts. I have thanked Jane many times for putting good work ethics in them. And yes, Allison would come home spitting nails, madder than the devil, because Jane made her do some things she didn’t want to do. But through the years, Allison has loved Jane with such respect she purposely keeps in touch with her. I believe Jane and Allison met their match in each other.

I said to my daughter, “Jane was just running a business. She didn’t purpose to touch all those young kids so profoundly, but she did. There was only one way to do a job and it was to do it the right way.”

One of the items on the menu came up in discussion and 25 former Hub workers finished in unison the toppings that went on the hamburger. No one had forgotten. Even today, they will tell you that they all know how to count change. Isn’t that a rarity in this day and age?

There was more than flipping hamburgers going on during those days at the Hub. Bob and Jane were teaching them to take a higher road — respect their selves, respect others and respect the job they were given to do.

It was the only place in Pagosa where young kids were hired. It wasn’t about how much they made or the perks; it was about learning how to work for the money they received.

I read about a new concept today — new to me, anyway. The journey is not about the road we travel, but the life we live. Our life is the journey. The way we have lived shows the journey we have walked. Being with someone who had a respect for business and doing a good job made those kids better and brought them to a higher place in themselves. They have walked a better journey because someone wouldn’t let them get by doing a shoddy job.

I watched them with pride talk about how tough Jane had been. It was Marine Boot Camp at its best. It was if they wore a badge of merit and only few could say, “We passed the test.” They were a part of something that made them proud. The bathrooms, kitchen and floors were spotless. Customers passing through Pagosa told them it was the cleanest place in town. The kids bragged about it later.

Each night after work, the kids came home, plopped down on our king-size bed and told my Sweet Al and I what happened at the Hub that day. Many days it wasn’t about fun and games, but hard lessons they learned from Jane.

The higher path was hard and their lives are the journey, and now 40- and 50-year-olds stand on higher ground. They were walking on mountaintops in their hearts that fun August evening as they told story after story about those days at the Hub.

Final brushstroke: There is a real lesson here. It’s about Jane, who loved them, and being that person who had respect for life, job and home and insisted others learn respect, too. I didn’t see any black or blue marks on the guests, only love for Jane. I hear grateful hearts expound for someone who cared enough to teach them how to make their lives better.

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