Retirement not all roses for Green’s Harbour man
Despite advancing years, former businessman still has the desire to work
After more than a half-century in business, Graham Taylor admits he misses the satisfaction of going to work each day and dealing with the public.
“I enjoyed every minute of it for the first 40 years. But as we got older and things changed, it wasn’t as much
— Graham Taylor
Green’s Harbour, Trinity-Bay — It’s a warm, weekday afternoon and a white-haired man sporting a distinctive handlebar mustache is confidently strolling down a side street in this scenic community.
He’s wearing a red dress shirt, green pants with suspenders and a blue windbreaker with a dart logo on the front.
There’s a pen in his breast pocket, and judging from his appearance and deportment, a stranger might assume he is a former drill sergeant or lawman.
Meet Graham Taylor, a 74-year-old retired businessman whose name is well known among many older adults in the Trinity South region and beyond.
That’s because for 53 years, Taylor and his wife Cavell ran a business in the small community - Taylor’s Esso and Restaurant.
They sold the business in 2007 after cancer and advancing years made it difficult for Graham to maintain the well-established enterprise.
Three years later, Graham spends his time taking walks in the town, enjoying the company of his grandchildren, and going on leisurely drives with his wife.
After more than a half-century of opening his business at 6 a.m. and devoting nearly all of his energy to his work, Graham admits his life s a little empty these days.
So he welcomes the chance to talk to a stranger who strikes up a conversation with him near a fishermen’s wharf in the community. Surrounded by lobster pots and with the late-afternoon sun warming his furrowed skin, he reflects on a lifetime of memories, most of which bring a smile to his face.
He reflects on the year he spent in Bishop’s Falls in 1953. His mother Ella, a teacher, arranged to have her son complete high school in the central Newfoundland town because she felt he would benefit from the experience. One of his classmates that year was future NHLer Alex Faulkner.
He started his business, an auto repair shop, the very next year, opening on the same location where his father, Graham Mercer Sr., operated a lumber business.
His father died at age 38 of a failing heart. Graham was just nine years-of-age and his sister, Judy, was four months old.
Graham’s business succeeded and in the early 1970s, the couple added a restaurant. He operated the garage, while Cavell took care of the food.
Graham has many fond memories of his years in business.
“I enjoyed every minute of it for the first 40 years,” he said.
“But as we got older and things changed, it wasn’t as much fun anymore.”
None of their four children were interested in taking over the business, so they sold it.
Graham said he had “more grease run down his neck over the years than you can shake a stick at.”
He stressed that while they made a living, it wasn’t all profit and prosperity. There were ups and downs over the years, and they both worked endless days and long hours to make it work.
It’s no surprise, then, that Graham is still in work mode. He’s awake every morning at 5:30, and still has trouble getting to sleep at night because there are so many ideas and thoughts racing through his active mind. And what’s with the pen in his pocket? He never leaves home without one. It’s a habit carried over from his working days.
“I’ll even go back home and get it if I forget,” he said. “I’ll sometimes go weeks without using it, but it’s always there.”
And the moustache? The handlebar, or spaghetti, has been his trademark for 35 years. He removed it during his battle with cancer, but is once again applying the wax each morning.
The dart logo on the jacket is a tribute to Cavell, a one-time Canadian ladies’ singles champion who once competed in an international event in England.
“I went along as well to take in the sights,” Graham joked.
After about 20 minutes, Graham politely ends the conversation and continues his walk. It’s nearly suppertime. His appetite, it seems, is just as formidable as his spirit.
Graham Taylor of Green’s Harbour was once a well-known businessman. Now retired, he admits that life without work can be challenging. Photo by Terry Roberts