“I’m used to being around so many people,” Antoinette says. “My father was the same way. Even after we moved to Wynnewood, he wouldn’t sit at home. He’d be here at the store.”
“You met people, you talked to people—I learned a trade,” Harry Crimi Sr. says.
“You have to understand, it’s a family business,” Harry Crimi Jr. says.
Early employment & delivery adventures
“We lived above the store. There’s always been a continuity of generations living and working together,” says Harry Jr., who works Saturdays and uses holiday time off from his job as a hospital pharmacy manager to work at the shop around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“It’s in your blood,” he says, stating that he quickly learned from his parents’ example of working 12-14 hour days during the week, followed by more intense schedules during weekends.
Domenick says his parents worked longer hours in the 50s and 60s.
“I can remember as far back as ’65 when I was 5 years old,” he says, telling me that Fridays were 7am till 9/10pm; weekdays were 8am to 6pm.
But why the change in hours?
“You had more business on the street. Less supermarkets. More of the old school people shopping here. There was a necessity for it,” Domenick says.
Besides disco, the 70s brought the rise of supermarkets.
And by 1970, Domenick was already a five-year veteran at the shop at the ripe old age of ten.
“They had us started at age five, sweeping up, cleaning,” Domenick says. Around age seven, both he and his brother were given a dull kitchen knife by their grandmother and left to figure out how to remove scrap meat from bones. “By the time we were teenagers, we were whole-hogging it,” he says.
“I’d get in the truck and help with deliveries, or go to the slaughterhouse [formerly behind Talluto’s, it lasted until the early ‘90s, according to Domenick] to select a live pig and help bring back carcasses,” Harry Jr. says.
“At 8-10 years old, these were adventures,” he says, after relating how he would descend into galleys of iron ore ships bound for China on some pork heavy deliveries.
The employees with whom they passed so many hours in the shop were also part of the family.
“There was one man, Domenick Lombardo from Sicily—he was with us for 50 years. He walked my mother to school and then I grew up with him as a major presence here,” Domenick Crimi says.
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