Elder Howell was her name, but we all knew her as Eldy,or Elda,
She was the little old lady who ran, and owned the Calen Newsagency shop on the corner of McIntyre Street and The Bruce Highway. She has been ill for a while now, and her sister Mavis has been running the store.
Calen Newsagency is a tourism place in its own right. Locals and passers by call in, to step back in time, and mooch through the old magazines and stock of unusual and interesting wares. Interesting to find in a supermarket that is!
If you needed something, Elder more than likely would have it. Always try there before driving all the way to Mackay or Prossy. She knew what was in nearly every white foam vege box. Not just because of what was written in black texta, but also from her memory. Whenever I have visitors come to Calen , it is tradition for them to call in and have a look at our strange ‘ol shop.
After Cyclone Ului in 2010 , I went for a drive up McIntyre Street to check out the damage to my little town. There were trees across the road, and pouring rain and wind. Ului had unleashed in the wee hours of the morning, but daylight was upon us now. Time to have a look around.
Calen Newsagency had a portion of its corrugated iron roof flapping around and most of the front had damage of some sort. I wondered how Elder had faired? And there she was, with her straw broom, sweeping her small concrete path that led to the doorway
Amid the carnage she was open for business!! No power, debris surrounding her, the roof half off. She smiled and waved, and I was so relieved she was fine, and open. I really Needed an Ice Break, ice coffee.
Elder was a godsend that day. I got my hit of caffeine, and a few bags of ice too because we had no power either. For a whole week as it turned out, but that’s another story.
Don’t get me wrong, the shop also supplies the necessities like fresh bread, milk, cigarettes, the paper, magazines, Lotto, ice, and locally grown fruit and veges etc.
Elder was known to be quite ruthless at times, which I guess is why she has accumulated so many properties, and a thriving business. But most of all, no matter what, you would have to say she was a hard worker. No-one could deny that. Up very early to set all the papers out on the crates that line the front of the shop, then put them all away again in the evening. Rarely was anyone else at the cash register. You would hear her call out from down the back.
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
I can hear her now. Then she would come and serve you, writing the prices down on a piece of paper, adding the figures up out loud, rip out the square of sums, and hand it to you with your change. She was also a master at add on selling.
“Can I get you something else? Have you got your lotto today? What about these lovely tomatoes. Only just came in, very fresh. Good price too. Won’t get them like these at Woolworths.”
People would always being having a chat about this and that whilst she pottered along serving us, one at a time, in her manner. It was never a rushed event, so you might as well take your time and enjoy it. Even if you only went up for the paper!
So, farewell to a legend in our area, and hello to a change in the air for Calen and Kolijo, as she also owns most buildings. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the future.
A new era will begin, with new visions and energy comes a great future. A new pub is starting to be built to replace the Calen Hotel after the fire in 2012.
The shop is on the market, and who knows, perhaps IGA will buy it? Or heaven forbid, Woolies!! Position, position, position.
Until then though, call in, say hi to Mavis, she truly is lovely! Take a look around Calen Newsagency and take in the history.
Farewell Elder, you were always good to me and mine. It has been a pleasure to know you.