Produce man enjoys returning to his roots

LAUREL — Paul Johnson’s arrival in Laurel always seems to come with some excitement.

A typical scene features the front door flying open and the children excitedly saying something like, “Hey look, Paul’s in town today. Can we go get a melon?”

Paul Johnson has been commissioned to sell Norfolk Produce in Laurel for nearly a decade’s worth of seasons, now.

The first few years he did business downtown. However, for the past four years, he has posted up along the highway between Crows Nest Antiques and Citizens Bank.

Johnson has more ties to Laurel than his years of produce sales.

“My grandpa, Gunnar Johnson, used to have a filling station right over there,” Johnson said as he pointed to the Highway 20 and second street intersection.

Perhaps that is part of the reason he enjoys coming to Laurel.

“My family is from here. I love the friendly people here. Everyone treats me well.” Johnson said as he smiles and waves his arm side to side at the 18-wheeler passing by.

Johnson’s produce gig is seasonal, but it’s something he looks forward to year round.

“I always hope to be here for a couple of months.” he said. “This year, I hope to be here for a few more weeks.”

Johnson says he enjoys making the trip to Laurel from his home southeast of Norfolk.

“It is fun to see the familiar faces. Everyone is my friend.” When Johnson is not busy passing out produce, he helps on a farm and is a part time janitor at a bowling alley in Norfolk. Johnson is in Laurel all day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

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