WINTERSVILLE - A familiar face will be missing from behind the deli and bakery cases at the Kroger Food and Pharmacy in Wintersville as of March 1. That smiling face belongs to Linda Chivers, head deli and bakery supervisor, who started her journey through the Kroger stores in 1969.
She began her Kroger career at the old Hollywood Boulevard store in Steubenville, working in the meat department. She then went to the Wellsburg Kroger, where she moved about from the meat department to the delicatessen, slicing up ham, bologna and salami and all types of cheeses. The Weirton Kroger was another of her stops along the way during her years with the Kroger family.
Chivers has remained at the Main Street store in Wintersville for 22 years and knows many of the customers by name, including what their choices are in lunch meats, cheeses and bakery products.
HER SPECIALTY — Decorating cakes is a specialty of Linda Chivers, head deli and bakery supervisor at the Wintersville Kroger, where she has worked for 22 years. She started at the old Hollywood Boulevard Kroger Store in 1969 and worked in the Weirton and Wellsburg stores as well. She will be leaving March 1, retiring to fulfill a longtime bucket list, but she says she will miss her customers greatly. - Esther McCoy
"I will miss my customers," she said. She regards them all as friends.
Her favorite place in the Kroger Food and Pharmacy is in the deli and bakery, where artfully decorated baked goods are displayed to entice those with a sweet tooth.
Regarding the decorating of cakes, cupcakes and cookies, she tells that her skills were learned on the job.
"Years ago at the Weirton store we did tier wedding cakes and I had to learn to master that. It took practice," she recalled. "I gave cake and decorating classes at the Weirton Community Center while I was at the Weirton store," Chivers remembers.
A decorating program that children look forward to each year is her Kroger Cookie Decorating class held during the Jefferson County Fair.
"This started about 14 years ago with the help of Betty Hasley, and we did decorating for children from 3 years through teens. I would even coax some adults to try to decorate two sugar cookies as I had instructed the children. The young ones were always proud of their work, but not always proud enough to resist eating the cookies before they left the decorating area. Sometimes you had to watch that the little ones did not lick the icing spreading paddle when the frosting was passed to them. But we all had loads of fun. This gave the children something to do during their stay at the fair, too," Chivers said.
The head bakery supervisor, with 20 employees in the department, served as a judge for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times' Holiday Cookbook for six years and always has stepped in to do more than is asked of her. She judged the cakes and pies category in November, when an Italian Cream Cake baked by Cyndy Fisher of Weirton was the first runner-up.
Chivers started with judging the cookies and candies categories and has done the appetizers and breads as well.
Look for her to do it expertly - she even brings in throw-away aprons for the judges and wears latex gloves when handling the food.
"I'm going to really miss my customers when I leave. I know many by name and know what they will be buying," she said, almost getting misty-eyed.
Chivers does have a bucket list of projects and places she plans to go when she will not be waking up early each morning and heading for work.
"I want to go skiing again. Sometime ago in Colorado, I broke my ankle going like a hot-dogger. Then in Pennsylvania I broke my wrist. I plan on going to Seven Springs to celebrate in March and hopefully won't have any accidents," she said.
"Piano lessons are another of my bucket list plans. I have a beautiful organ at my home in East Springfield and never had enough time to take lessons before. And I want to learn to speak Spanish."
Chivers has six sisters, located all over the United States, and her first visit will be to see a sister in California.
She also wants to get involved with the Jefferson County Farm Bureau promotion and education committee's annual Cupcake Wars contest at the Jefferson County Fair. She was a judge last year and would like to keep up the tradition.
She also wants to give cake decorating classes to young people.
When she is not scooting off to visit her sisters, going skiing or spending time practicing her piano lessons, she will be involved in bakery projects as much as possible. And she is always welcome to be a celebrity judge with the Holiday Cookbook Contest.
Also keeping her busy will be using her work as a Miche purse consultant and an Avon lady.
She doesn't plan to be idle - there is much to do, see and experience yet.