By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – John Rush figures high school turned him into a well-rounded human being.
He needed 16 credits to graduate, and he’d accumulated 21.5. He took everything they offered but shorthand and home economics.
“I already knew how to do shorthand,” the 68-year-old Pontotoc County native said. “As for home economics, I already came off the farm, so I knew how to cook and sew.”
He forgot his college plans not long after a friend suggested Rush for a job.
“I went to the manager and he said, ‘When do you want to start?’” Rush said. “I said, ‘Monday.’ He said, ‘See you, Monday.’ That was that.”
He worked at Stubb’s and Michael’s, a pair of Pontotoc clothing stores, for nearly 12 years. In the ’70s, he started commuting to Tupelo to work at Reed’s. He’s been a busy man ever since.
“We always have something going on around here. If we’re not selling, we’re buying,” he said. “You know that old saying, ‘If you can lean, you can clean.’”
This will mark his 37th year at Reed’s. It hasn’t been all work for a man who likes to say, “Every day’s a good day.”
“At about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we all gather around and talk a lot,” he said. “The customers join in, too. We have our fun.”
A good conversation is as important as a sale for Rush. He doesn’t meet too many strangers, even if they’ve never been to the store before.
“I had a gentleman come in here the other day. He was opening up a new business in town. He came in just for a pair of socks,” Rush said. “We talked for a while. Before he left, he’d bought a pair of pants. When he came to pick up his pants, he bought a jacket. He wore them to his grand opening.”
Rush’s son, Johnny, recently joined the Reed’s staff, and he’s learning the ins and outs of the business.
“He’s following in my footsteps,” Rush said.
Rush said if he’s got to do something, he might as well be working. It reminded him of an old joke about people at a church meeting.
A man told a lady, “I bet you could find something nice to say about the devil.”
“Well, he works hard,” she said.
“Now, that’s about right, isn’t it?” Rush said, after laughing at his own joke.