By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – When Frances Lindsey began working in grocery stores in 1962, bread was 29 cents a loaf and a package of bacon cost a half-dollar.
“Food was cheap then,” said Lindsay, 72. “Twenty dollars would have filled up two buggy loads of groceries.”
Lindsey has seen a lot of changes in the 51 years she’s either been checking, managing or bookkeeping for various grocery stores.
But on Friday, she said goodbye to the working world as she spent her last day as a cashier at the Kroger at Crosstown, where she has worked for the past eight years.
“I’ll miss my co-workers and all my customers I’ve had over the years,” said Lindsey. “But now, it’s my time to go. It’s time to start a new life.”
Lindsey said she still remembers the first thing she ever checked out as a cashier: It was a peach she weighed on an old Mercury scale.
“Back then, everything – all the cans – were marked with prices and you punched the amount into a cash register,” she said. “You had to give change back from your head – there was no machine to tell you how much to give them back.”
Lindsey started her career at a Jitney Jungle in Franklinton, La., in 1962. In October 1968, she moved to Tupelo.
“I went to the Kroger (in the Goodyear building on Main Street), but they didn’t need any help,” she said. “So I went to the A&P and Mr. Price Harper hired me. Herman Page bought A&P’s stock and I worked for him until Jitney Jungle came to Tupelo.”
When the Jitney closed in Tupelo, Lindsey was transferred to the store in Pontotoc. Winn-Dixie eventually bought their stock and closed the store, and Lindsey landed back in Tupelo at the Kroger.
Miss Frances, as she’s affectionately called by her co-workers and even her supervisors, had already been at the Crosstown store for a couple of years when Michael Storey came on board as manager.
“She has been the most dependable associate I’ve ever worked with,” Storey said. “Even in the snow, she was here. She had her pastor bring her to work the last time it snowed so hard. She gets here 30 minutes before her shift starts so she’s never late.”
Lindsey said she’ll miss getting up early to work the first shift at the grocery store. But retirement doesn’t mean she’ll be sitting at home twiddling her thumbs.
On Sunday, she’s going to be married in a private ceremony to a man she’s known since her childhood in Tylertown.
“We grew up together,” she said. “He lived three houses down from me. We plan to do some traveling.”
Lindsey said never in the half-century she spent in grocery stores did she even once consider switching careers.
“I loved it,” she said. “I loved seeing the different customers every day. I just enjoyed my work.”
One customer in particular who’s going to miss her is U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
“I have a lump in my throat,” Wicker said when he heard that Friday was Miss Frances’ last day to work. “Anytime I go in there I try to get in her line. She has waited on three generations of my family – my dad, my children and me.”
Wicker said he believes that whatever job you have, you need to do it well.
“She took pride in her work and she was good at it,” he said. “She always had such a wonderful spirit. It was truly a joy to deal with her even for those brief moments at the store.”