During the Second World War, Leon operated a modest black market sundries shop hidden behind a false wall of a small house within an Austrian village.
He sold little bits of pleasure and hard to-come-by supplies: chocolate, cigarettes, gasoline, and — surprisingly popular with American soldiers — smoked trout.
Each merchant eagerly sourced trout from the same nearby river, leading to intense competition and often weak yields.
Crafty Leon devised a method to shift the odds.
On Sundays, just before dawn, sporting homemade rubber pants, Leon would wade a few feet into the river. He carefully held a very long wooden pole attached to a live electrical wire commandeered from a power line suspended along the river.
One quick dip and dozens of "sleeping" (as he described them) trout would surface and float downstream into the nets he had positioned a few minutes prior.
Leon sold a lot of fish.
A few years later, he and his family won a lottery for passage across the Atlantic to the Land of Opportunity.
Always the merchant, Leon sold anything from bricks to light bulbs to Buicks.
His son went on to sell Polaroids on the beach as a 9-year-old. Then (years later) onto bras and then denim jeans and then glycerin soap and then TV commercials and then holograms and then insurance.
And his son, me, is now here, somehow drawn to become a shopkeep of sorts in the digital age.
Thanks for stopping by.
I'm all ears for feedback or suggestions or cool stories about your grandpa.