Mark Andrews claims he was born with double the “worker” gene. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents lived the Work Ethic, laboring from sunup till past sundown in the Ithaca area. He remembers that his paternal grandparents, Ruby and Anthony Andrews of the much-loved Andrews Confectionery, worked till 11 p.m. each evening, seven days a week. Located between the Strand Theater and a bar, Andrews’ grandparents sold popcorn on the sidewalk when the Strand had shows. Ruby Andrews made and served homemade chocolates and ice cream sodas and sundaes in her charming vintage shop till she was 78 years old. Andrews’ father worked for years at the A&P located in Fall Creek, where Andrews began his employment after it became a P&C grocery store.
Andrews attributes his success and satisfaction to a simple motto that he learned from his family: “Always show up.” His colleagues and employers say he has kept things running smoothly in many P&C’s stores because he is “all in.” He pitches in wherever needed with a grasp of the big picture, and a willingness to wrestle with the smallest detail. When Andrews retires this spring, he will be missed. “After 40 years, I still love it.”
Andrews found his first job close to home. After graduation from South Seneca High School, he plunged into the world of work as an orderly at Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane (“Willard Psychiatric”), where he helped people warehoused for a wide range of challenges-- people who had been lobotomized, “wild” teenagers, persons with amputated limbs, and persons with psychiatric diagnoses.
Headed toward Ithaca, Andrews worked next at Lakeside Nursing home where he enhanced his work skills and found his life partner—Cheryl McFall, a co-worker. McFall sagely advised him “We can’t date if you work here.” So, Andrews moved on to two new jobs in Ithaca: Full-time from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Purity Ice Cream plant (where McFall’s father ran the Purity plant for 50 years, and “broke the ice” for him with management) and then 4 to 8 p.m. at the P&C on Hancock Street. He filled his weekends and days off fixing up the home he and McFall bought when they married in 1985, and helping family, friends, and customers fix up their homes.
From 1983 to 1996 he was a manager for P&C and rotated between 12 different stores. Eventually, with a child at home, lots of home improvement clients on the weekends, maintaining his home and his in-laws’ home, he settled into bookkeeping for P&C.
Andrews and McFall bought their first home close to her parents in Danby. They loved spending holidays in the McFall’s home nearby and would swing over after work to help maintain the home and 4 acres of property.“Like so many who lived through the Great Depression, our parents are awesome. Hard workers, smart savers, family, and community supporters,” Andrews said.
In 2005 McFalls parents were considering eldercare as they addressed serious health issues, so that year Andrews and McFall sold their home of 20 years and bought her parents’ home. With support from the Danby Town Board, the McFalls created an Elder Cottage from a new double wide 28-foot by 58-foot trailer with 1,600 square feet on a one-acre parcel. “Everything is on one floor. No basement. No stairs.”
This decision allowed their son, Ethan, to grow up with family nearby, and they can walk over to maintain the McFalls’ house and yard immediately. The McFalls elder years were savored amongst caretakers who were devoted to them and kept their home and land in pristine condition.
Andrew’s love of homes, his endless energy, and growing up among family members who took care of what they had, helped him become skilled and sought after for painting, carpentry, wallpapering (learned from uncle Robert McFall), laying hardwood floors, and almost any other task that would enhance a home. Friends and neighbors joke that he and his wife have channeled Martha Stewart-Bob Villa (This Old Home).
Andrews began his home improvement business in 2001, doing projects after his workday ended and has accumulated hundreds of loyal customers in this area.
His high school art teacher, Kirk Wright, visited with him whenever he shopped at the P&C over the years. In February 2017 Kirk advised, “When you are too old to stand on concrete all day, and then crawl under houses in your spare time-- take your drive, your outgoing personality, your detailed attention to home improvement of homes and come join Keller-Williams Southern Tier-Finger Lakes Realty of Ithaca.”
With guidance and support, Andrews completed five months of study and joined KW, now in bright, attractive offices on the second floor of the Elmira Savings Bank, at Rt. 13 Meadow and State/Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. streets. As a memento to his past and a reminder of his roots, one of the menus from the Andrews Confectionery is displayed on his office walls.
This Spring Mark Andrews heads across town after 40 years to his new office at Keller-Williams Realty, where he can look out and see where his grandparents worked so many years ago.
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