Dry Goods

by Mark C. Wallfisch

Abraham and Simon Cohen came to America after the Civil War and found their way to a small town in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, many miles from anywhere you’ve ever heard of.  They opened a dry-goods store.  They sold fabrics, notions, bedding, housewares, clothing, hats, shoes, and lots of miscellany.

Abe and Simon prospered, and that’s how they ran into trouble.

As dusk was setting in one fall evening, Abe and Simon were closing up shop and preparing to go home to their families a short walk away.  As they stepped into the street, they saw two worn-out old horses ambling toward them, each with a Ku Klux Klansman perched atop.  

The horsemen were draped in white Klan regalia and called out to the Cohens to stop.  The Klansmen would have been a lot more intimidating if they had roared down the street with a dozen or so comrades on bustling steeds.  But, no, it was a very small town, and this sorry pair was all the Knights of the KKK could mobilize for that evening’s mission.

The horsemen pulled up in front of the store, and one yelled, “Heebs!”

Abe responded, “Us?”

“Yes, you!  You see any other heebs, yids, kikes around here?  Yes, you.  You don’t belong here.  By daylight tomorrow, you’d better be gone.  We don’t need no heeb store in this town.  Now git.  Be gone by sunrise.”

Abe cleared his throat. “Oh, come on guys, you don’t scare us.  You’ve been in our store.  We sold you those sheets.  You must need some new ones by now.  Come back tomorrow; we’re having a sale.” 

The Klansmen conferred and then slowly turned the horses away from the store. One Klansman looked back toward the Cohens and muttered, “OK. See you tomorrow.”

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