Engraving job left eternal marks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

That engraving machine frightened me. I prayed if someone wanted something engraved, I would not be the one helping with the purchase.

When you engrave something, it’s a one-time shot to get it right. The fear of messing up made me do anything I could to avoid that machine.

However, there were times I was the one responsible for putting as name on a bracelet or creating a beautiful initial in the middle of a silver platter. So, I swallowed my fear and mastered that monster. Best I can remember I never messed up.

Funny, the things you remember. The engraving machine experience popped into my head when I read Covington Jewelers in Opp is closing its doors in November.

I was barely 18 when I worked at the store. First, let me explain that Covington Jewelers was part of my childhood world. When I was a kid, the store on the corner of Covington Avenue and Main Street was one of the places I walked past every Saturday on my weekly trip to town.

At Christmastime, I’d look at the beautiful jewelry in the windows. How it sparkled and set me dreaming about the charm bracelet or birthstone ring that might find its way under my tree. And a couple of times, my dream came true when Santa delivered the exact item I’d seen in the store window.

Over the years, I owned watches, bracelets and assorted pieces of jewelry that came from Covington Jewelers. The formal crystal glasses sitting in the cabinet in my dining room came from there, as did the engagement ring on my left hand.

Well, I took a detour, so let me return to my time as an employee in the store. I needed a job because I was a new wife with a new house payment. I didn’t know where to begin my search.

Then one day, I went into Covington Jewelers to pick up a wedding gift someone left for me, and while Mrs. Pugh went to get the gift, I talked with Mr. Pugh. Now I’d known the Pughs most of my life. We went to church together and their youngest daughter, Jan, and I were friends.

Mr. Pugh asked how I was doing, asked about my family. As we were talking, I mentioned I was looking for a job. It happened they were looking for someone to help in the store. I think he hired me on the spot.

The next Monday morning, I began what was a short tenure as a jewelry store employee. Mr. Pugh not only owned the store with his wife, but he also worked as a jewelry salesman. That meant he traveled during the week while Mrs. Pugh kept the store running. (Mr. Bill was also a dedicated Gideon and gave time to helping the organization place Bibles in hotel rooms and other public places).

I remember how patient the Pughs were as I learned my new job. When the Christmas season arrived, I wrapped presents that I’m sure someone dreamed about like I did when I stared in the windows as a kid.

On what was my last day working at the store and the final day the store was open before Christmas, Mrs. Pugh handed me a beautifully wrapped box and wished me Merry Christmas. Inside I found the water glasses I needed to finish out my wedding crystal. I almost cried because I’d doubted ever being able to afford to complete the set.

I went home to start a family and raise children, but I still shopped at Covington Jewelers and I enjoyed visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Pugh and later with their son-in-law, Henry.

For me, it’s especially sad to see the store close, but I understand Jan and Henry are ready to retire. Still, it is part of the Opp of my childhood disappearing.

However, the precious memories I have of Covington Jewelers and the fine family that owned it will never disappear.

Nancy Blackmon is a writer and yoga teacher.