by Laura B. Berkowitz
Editor's note: In the fall of 1988, the Brattleboro Food Co-op moved from the Flat Street location to the Main Street plaza store location. This store is now in our collective memory, and this co-op story serves to remind us that all transitions have their own distinct meanings to each and every one of us. Twenty-plus years from now, there will be stories of this current transition too.
The Day We Fell (1988)
The building we just left was almost ready for shelves – not for shelves to be stocked, but for shelves to be installed. It was a huge empty space, perfect for a dance party. I don’t recall the date, the band’s name, or what food was served but I do remember wild dancing, lukewarm cider, and damp soil… in that order.
It was a warm day and I needed a break from the dance floor. I filled a paper cup with cider and headed for some fresh air. The nearest exit was through a rectangular hole in the wall that would eventually lead to a walk-in cooler. The perimeter ditch was already dug and awaited foundation cement. A couple of adults were standing in the circumscribed outdoor space and two or three kids sat close together on the door sill facing out. Immediately in front of me a stranger with the same idea as me carefully edged past the kids, full cup of cider held aloft. He placed his left foot on the edge of the four-foot-deep ditch and suddenly we all became spectators as the earth crumbled beneath him. Like a slow motion film, this was frame one, my first sight of my future husband: flying cider, flying eyeglasses, flying dirt. Frame two: We are alone outdoors – did everyone flee the chaos or is this my romantic memory? Patrick hauled himself out of the ditch and brushed at his clothes in a largely futile attempt to clean off. Of course my first words to him were “Are you all right?” and he was struck by the depth of my compassion. His reply, “I’m fine, just embarrassed,” and I was struck by the breadth of his honesty and humility.
Was our first date that walk to his truck to get a clean shirt? Twenty-one years later we’re still dating!