April 20, 1998


Joe's smile is his bread and butter


photo by Oscar Roloff

There's that smiling Joe Dahlbom and his side-kick Andrew Martin, both employed at Coast to Coast Hardware Store in Duvall.

     By Oscar Roloff

   A few days ago my friend Dave Harder entered Duvall's Coast to Coast store to note a most unusual sight evolving around Joe Dahlbom. Fascinated, Dave told another employee, Andrew Martin, to get hold of writer Oscar Roloff to come out and do a feature article on Joe's fascinating banter constantly coupled with effusive smiles. I went out and stood to one side to see Joe at his best as he waited on scores of customers. Daily he comes from the SeaTac area to his job in Duvall, and his banter follows along with him.
   Good Grief! There he was, smiling like all get-out and getting the same from each entering customer, young and old alike. His smile was his umbrella to happiness. Seemed like old home week as Joe took care of his customer's needs. He knew exactly where each item was stacked and rushed to comply.
   In his late 60's, Joe had three jobs in his life. That's all. No one fires him. He's too reliable and dependable and the 'crowd' loves him. He's a good drawing card, a rare and unusual character. The kind I like, and there are few left. I know. I dig them out of the woods.
   "Let's find a quiet place where I can interview you," I said. He took me back to a narrow passageway where there were a small table and two chairs. I had to keep bending forward as people, young and old, came by. Finally I asked, "Where are they going," I wondered. "Oh, to the toilet," he quipped with a smile. "I don't see a door," I returned.
   As I prepared to leave, I stood near the door. Fantastic. All entering people came in and immediately began to smile, then began talking like old home weekdays. Co-worker Andrew Martin, 21, who is working his way upward as a minister, looked at me, pointed to Joe, then smiled.
   Smiling travels too
   As I left, I stopped at a crosswalk to let a man cross. I waved, then smiled; the man stood there, afraid. Drivers in the three cars behind me honked their horns, then one driver yelled, "Run over him!" They had out of state license plates. Finally in absolute fear, he darted across.
   I deduced this: When the pedestrian arrived home, he yelled, "Guess what Molly! A man stopped to let me cross the street. As you know we've lived here 27 years, and this is the first time this ever happened. What's wrong?
   Molly replied, "It's the effect that's beginning to permeate over the town, by Joe, even affecting crosswalks. Go down to see Joe tomorrow at the store and take him out to lunch, but just in case, find an eatery on this side of the street."
   In closing it's indeed a pleasure to meet and write about Joe Dahlbom and witness his easy-going banter that draws 'em. Store owner Francis Cox has a gold mine in Joe Dahlbom as business keeps booming. Joe can do no wrong. His smile is his drawing card and that is often lacking in this world of frenzy and haste. Thanks Andrew, though young at 21, you are a also a good drawing card and will become a good minister. Keep Joe a-smiling and get a door on that toilet. I had to go, but didn't.