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Le Courant

Automne 2020 | 22

Mr. Sam Green

Sam Green

The following is a talk given on Sam Green by his son, Donald Green, at the regular Breakfast Lecture series on May 12, 2019.

First of all, a little information on Donald Green. He lives locally in this area and is married to Sandrine Jean-Marie. They have two children: one daughter is still a student and is 16 years old, the other, a daughter who is 22 years old and works in Magog.

This wonderful story of the Green family begins when the family came to Canada in 1912. Sam was only a year old at the time and he was part of a family composed of seven children. Sam was the only child of this family who was not born in Canada. Once the family became settled in this area, the six other children were born here. The original family immigrated from Russia and they were of Russian-Jewish descent, including Sam. Sam had a brother, Harry born in 1925, and five sisters. There was Simmie, born in 1909, Betty - born in 1916, Morley born in 1918, Rachel born 1920 and Leah born in 1922.

The parents had come to this country and settled in Sherbrooke where they ran a butcher shop. As part of the business, hides of meat were for sale. Other grocery products were also sold.

A few years later, in 1927, the family moved to Coaticook and opened up a second hand store. Sam's father Morris ran the business but he unexpectedly died at 42 years of age. It was at this time that Sam took over the business. Sam was the oldest member of the family and was approaching his early twenties but nevertheless he did possess a good sense of business which would hold him well in the business that was left by his father. Donald told us that this business contained all sorts of merchandise. The main stock in the store seemed to be metal and hardware. In the iron section, new and used products were sold. The second hand store was able to satisfy many of the customers as they were able to buy articles at a lower cost and often found articles which they could adapt to their needs. Modern products could be found in the store which benefitted the needs of their coustomers. Donald told us that he was told that cowhides, chickens and all such manner of kind was being sold here. The sale and resale of skates was very popular. It is certain that some people present here today would remember some of these sales and the joy it brought to different people. Another very popular piece of merchandise was bicycles. Once again, memories were made and by just going to the store to pick out and buy ''that bicycle from Greens''.

                                     Commerce Samuel Green

A defining time for Sam Green's business was the Second World War. At this time all metal and iron were in demand for the war effort. This made for a very lucrative market. This materiale was in great demand by the government for various uses by the military. This was a time when rationing was instituted. Mr. Green's business would become a go-to place for customers buying hard to get items such as tires.

Another angle of Sam Green's business was the buying up of merchandise from other stores going through bankruptsy and then offering the commodities in his own business at a lower price. An anecdote which came down to us, let us know that he was even able to afford a commercial truck through these means which he hadn't been able to buy on the regular market for himself. I believe he already had in his mind the idea of recycling and sustainable consumption.

Let us now talk about Sam, the man. Yes, he was a businessman but he was also a businessman with heart. His clients knew him to have a generous side. It was not uncommon to learn that many times he helped customers by allowing them to take merchandise at no cost or for a relatively minor fee. He was also known to have been there for his brother who operated a business in Coaticook and found himself in bad financial straits. Sam was always there for his younger brother Harry. Sam was a man who loved helping others and he became a charter member of the Coaticook Lion's Club. We were told the Coaticook Lion's Club wanted to organize a drawing and offer a very special prize: a new car. This prize brought with it some risk to the Coaticook Lion's Club as it was necessary to sell enough tickets to off set the price of the car. Failure was certainly an option here. Sam offered to completely assume the risk and the responsibility of the transaction. Fortunately, everything went well and even the Lion's Club made a profit. This being said, the Lion's Club kept the concept of large prize drawings. Sam Green would always enjoy his reputation as a ''good guy'' to the people who knew him.

This life, which he so enjoyed, was not to last as he met his untimely death in 1963 on Lake Massawippi where he had gone for a boat ride. This story is worth telling because it is part of the legend of Sam Green. Donald had been told that his father had left the cottage like he usually did bringing along his son for a boat ride. Once on the lake it was presumed that he felt some sort of discomfort and placed Donald, then 19 months old, on the bottom of the boat and set the boat at low speed toward the direction of the cottage. Mr. Green did all he could to protect the child before being overwhelmed by the discomfort which took his life. However, Donald was able to learn some of the details of this incident through a conversation with his next door neighbor on the lake, Mrs. Renee Bedard. Mrs. Bedard told Donald that Sam had been unable to bring the boat back to the dock as he would have liked and the boat drove around in a constant circular manner. This alerted the neighbors that something must be wrong so someone went out to get the boat. Once the boat was brought to the shore, it was seen that Mr. Green had passed away. Donald was found, right where he had been left, on the bottom of the boat, safe and sound. This story was also confirmed by Donald's guardian and cousin, Mrs. Denise Roussel.

The death of Mr. Green would bring about change for the business. Sam Green had told his wife on more than one occasion that, if anything were to happen to him and he could no longer handle the business, she was to sell the business as quickly as possible. This kind of life was not the type of life for a woman. Mr. Green had always taken good care of his wife. The recent death of her husband was very upsetting but Rachel Hebert-Green was not a person to give up without any attempt to at least figure out a problem. She was a curious woman with a go-getter type of personality which allowed her to meet each new challenge with determination. She took over the reins of the business and would go on to successfully run it for another twenty years. Rachel had an organized and quick thinking mind that could work out problems quickly and to see various solutions within a short space of time. A good sense of business acumen and communication skills provided her with all the skills she needed to run the business. As well, she could count on the support of her family who were nearby. The business carried on very well and adapted with the times. After approximately twenty years, Rachel had decided that the time had come to retire and to pass the business on to Donald. The changing times had brought new shopping habits. The superstores had made their appearance on the landscape and local shopping with the consumer had now changed forever. Therefore, the time had come to sell the store and this local business would no longer be a part of local shopping life. The business was sold to Gaetan St. Pierre who was a bricklayer. He would operate the new business for a few years. In the following years, the store would be occupied by Michel Sage, Plumbing and later by the Coaticook Grain Center. A few years later the store belonged to G.F. Prolait.

                                   Mme Rachel Green

In 2011, the Town of Coaticook's Toponymy Committee named a new street in honor of Sam Green. It was decided that the amount of involvement and dedication that Sam Green devoted to the Town of Coaticook merited that a street be named in his honor. This street is located between Merrill Street and the Gravel Pit Road.

Throughout the years that the business was in operation, one remembers the name of Hugette Demers, secretary for several years. Louis Hebert, whose real name was Urbain, and nicknamed Ti-Loup, was the repairman and was familiar with a thousand trades. We also remember other workers--Almazar Lefebvre and Rosaire Cournoyer.

Throughout the time that Sam Green, Commerce was in operation, by Sam and run later by his wife Racel, it was a well known business in Coaticook. In conclusion, a little story: When the family arrived in Canada, their name was Zalone, according to their Russian origin. In French, Zalone was translated Vert. The name Green was later adopted as the chosen name to use in the new country.

Le Courant

Le Courant est publié par la Société une fois par année. Membres de la société, historiens professionnels et amateurs partagent avec les lecteurs le fruit de leurs recherches. Les textes sont disponibles en français et en anglais. La publication de cette revue est rendue possible grâce au soutien de commanditaires locaux que nous remercions avec toute notre gratitude.

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