Wednesday, January 9, 2008


It has been a grey week for us at Mid City, and not from the storms. Early Monday morning John Mikolajcik Sr. (Mickey to all who knew him) passed away at the age of 86. He and his wife Wilma (Dollie to all who know her!) opened the nursery in July, 1954. We recently got to see the books from that time and the first days sale (which wasn't even on the first day) was .95 cents.
I knew Mickey all my life. As a preschooler we would take walking field trips over to Mid City and Mickey would show us "Coke bottle" trees and other Willy Wonka-esque plants. There was an overgrown pond in the back that,he said, housed alligators. It was big and swampy looking to a 4-5 year old and I never even picked up on the twinkle in his eye or the tone in his laugh that I would come to recognize years later as the "tall tale" signs. Don't laugh...and yes, I'm pretty gullible....when I first started working for them just one month into my 18th year I DID head back to that pond to take a look.....maybe it was all the exotic animals over at the Palby's restaurant but it never occurred to me that of course they wouldn't have gaters back there! HA!
He and my grandfather had done some small, local politics in the wee early years of American Canyon and when Mickey was on the Board of Supervisors he asked grandpa to serve on planning commission. I got to overhear quite a few stories at that time and from then on until their last meeting a few months ago Mickey always called my grandpa "the Ambassador of American Canyon". Mickey was like that, always deflecting the spotlight off of himself.
I can still picture him flying around the nursery with the sprinkler key in hand, fixing and tinkering "THE SYSTEM" that watered 2.5 acres of nursery stock. I think secretly he loved the challenge of a leak or dry area that had been discovered. He got right to it and made sure it was fixed up. During those earlier years he was serving as supervisor for the second term. On the days they would meet up in Napa he would come straight from his meetings to the nursery, still in his suit. He looked quite handsome in that suit but always looked most comfortable in his work clothes. Those days there was a stream of visitors, mostly men, heading down to his office to chat. One thing I remember is, no matter how important his company was, if we accidentally walked in he would say "come on in Tina, get yourself some coffee". He was just like that. He was an incredible man to work for, as is the whole family. As the years have passed his son and grandson have taken over the nursery, but Mickey has been right there everyday...fixing carts, giving advice, visiting with friend, watching over us and OF COURSE...telling stories.
Its been a hard week walking in and out of his office, walking by and expecting to see him. He lived a long, good life and left so many wonderful things and people as his legacy, but still...we will miss you Mickey. More than you will ever know.

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