Anabaptist History Today

Collected Item: “PPE in the Produce Aisle”

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PPE in the Produce Aisle

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It's May 5, 2020, about 8 weeks into coronavirus reality, and I've postponed grocery shopping as long as I can. I grab the respirator we had lying around the garage for dusty projects, snap on safety goggles over my glasses, and pull on rubber gloves. I'm ready for the grocery store! I snap a selfie in the produce aisle at Stauffer's of Kissel Hill in Rohrerstown, PA.

Viewing the photo from today's vantage point, what stands out to me most is that we still know comparatively little about SARS-COV2. We're regularly learning of variants emerging. Instead of looking outdated, this level of personal protective equipment is just one step away from the daily masking and handwashing and avoiding crowds that have been a regular part of life for about a year now.

I also think about the web of Lancaster, PA Mennonite community. Stauffer's is a regional grocery chain that's duking it out with Whole Foods and Wegman's and appearing to remain buoyant. Roy and Florence Stauffer started the business as a produce stand in Kissel Hill, near Lititz, PA, circa 1930s. I've included a few photos from a history display in the Rohrerstown store.

In 2003 I interviewed Rhoda Stauffer Oberholtzer, Florence and Roy's daughter, for my master's thesis research. She talked about growing up alongside the family business, and one of her comments stuck with me. She said something very close to: "We all worked together. We learned you work because there's work to do, not because you want to or because it's fun."

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Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society

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