It was early on a Sunday morning as I stood with a handful of other patient shoppers outside of Trader Joe’s neighborhood market when I encountered the newspaper man. TJ (as the locals call it) was not yet open for business- so those of us in need of soy milk, almond granola, organic fruits and the like waited in a loose sort-of semi circle around the front glass doors of the store. I was standing off to the side, amusing myself by people-watching. I spotted a very old Cadillac, faded blue in color with a sun-bleached top, pull into the parking lot very slowly. Cars behind the unhurried Cadillac swiftly made their way around the vehicle with a seemingly annoyed acceleration.
The Cadillac moved into a parking space just across the way from our health food haven, and from the driver side stood up a very elderly man. He was easily in his eighties, and maybe more years to his biography than that. His thin white hair was neatly combed to one side. He paused by the side of his car to straighten the dark blue polyester jacket that he wore over a pressed white shirt and light blue, undistinguished tie. Gray polyester pants with soft black shoes completed his attire.
He came from an era when Sunday’s were meant for proper suits worn at church and family meals. He carried his fragile frame in a way that told the world that he was not influenced or impressed by changing times and casual costumes of others. Through the decades, his dignity had not been interrupted by fashionable foolhardy youngsters.