• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff 16

Here's Johnny - Kroger World: a look back

On July 16 in the year of our Lord 2015, the largest Kroger in the state opened in Versailles - across the street from the old Kroger. I remember that day like it was yesterday, or the day before. There were speeches, a ribbon-cutting, cheerleaders, and a performance by the Woodford County High School band. Since that glorious day, other stores and restaurants (some of which moved from across the street) have filled up that shopping center. The late Gary Jones would be happy to know that while his long-dreamed-of men's clothing store still hasn't come to fruition, Kroger - aka Kroger World in my July 23, 2015, column - does have a fairly large selection of clothes for men, women and children. A few days after the grand opening, amazed by how happy folks were to have Kroger World come to town, I wrote the following fictional account of one family's visit there. To paraphrase Ken Kesey, just because it didn't happen doesn't mean it's not true. Kroger World Billy and Sally Smith, usually near-immovable objects at 7 a.m. on summer days, had already brushed their teeth by sunrise. They raced downstairs, where their somewhat-bemused parents were sipping coffee. "Today's the day, right? Right? Right?" the children yelled in unison. "Yes, dears," their mother said. "Father has taken the day off, and as soon as you eat your cereal, and brush your teeth again, we're going to Kroger World." It was a good thing Billy and Sally, seven and four-years-old, were sitting at the kitchen table. When they swooned at their mother's words, their heads fell into their Captain Crunch-filled cereal bowls. That necessitated a quick bath for each, by which time Mr. Smith had the car warmed up and was pacing anxiously across their front lawn. By 7:17 a.m., the Smiths were on their way to Kroger World, where they parked in the southeast corner of the lot. Within seconds, they were aboard the Kroger Shuttle Bus for the 15-minute trip to the store entrance. They arrived in time to see the Woodford County High School band and cheerleaders perform one last number, a song-and-dance routine called "10-Cent Gallon Discount." Billy and Sally bombarded their parents with questions about the store's monorail (Mr. Smith gently but firmly reminded them to call it by its proper name: the Krogerail), the rollicking ride through the fruit section, "Krogerians of the Caribbean," and what to do should the teeming masses inside push them and their parents into different zip codes or time zones. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, the Smiths stepped inside the Krogerail. The doors gently shut, and it took off with a nearly silent swoosh, climbing to an elevation of 100 feet and a speed of 70 mph. The glass bottom allowed them to watch Kroger shoppers who chose to navigate the massive store on foot. Music wafted through the Krogerail, which the children's parents recognized as Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Four minutes after stepping aboard, the descent to the floor began. The Smiths and other passengers were let out, just feet away from the frozen foods section. They debated putting a few items inside the Krogercart they'd picked up after exiting the Krogerail, then laughed, realizing that when they left the store 12 hours later, the frozen goods would be neither frozen nor good. Within an hour, the Smiths were in the line for Krogerians of the Caribbean. The line was long, but moved quickly, and three hours later they were aboard a sparkling Krogerboat. They saw it all, from the Krogerian in pirate garb clutching a pineapple in one hand and a cutlass in another to the giant lobster waving its claws towards the fresh seafood section. The rest of the day tumbled past, and the Smiths ate and drank and exchanged glad tidings with fellow Kroger World visitors and employees. Billy and Sally were surprised and delighted when the friendly robot "Krogerscan" wobbled up to them, beeped and exclaimed, "Welcome, Kroger shoppers!" Both parents and children knew it would take years to digest all they had seen, felt and smelt. The sun was low when the Smiths finally left the store. A Kroger Shuttle Bus (they wondered whether it was the same one they'd took this morning) took them back to their car. The drive home was quick, and the Smiths silent, equally tired and happy. Mr. Smith eased the car into their garage, and the family exited and walked inside. That's when Mr. Smith put his hand to his head, grinned ruefully, and admitted, "You know, we forgot the milk."

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