Steve Spring takes charge, September 1979-1984

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After Mary left Toronto in September 1979 the Ragnarokr family and the leather shop continued to melt down. By August 1980 Randy, Billy, Philip, George and Colleen had all left and Bie Engelen assumed the management of the leather shop. In October only she and Steve Spring remained. Randy was in the state of Georgia working for his father’s contracting company. After Randy’s return in December, he, Bie and Steve Spring ran the leather shop for the next three years. Billy Rauton returned to Toronto but in April his siblings in Atlanta paid for his plane fare back to Atlanta. Randy accompanied his younger brother to the airport and loaned him $10 for the trip home.

Mary and Philip remained on friendly terms and kept up an active correspondence. In May 1981 Mary flew to Texas to visit Philip in Beaumont and Burkeville for a few days. During Mary’s visit, George and Colleen and the kids came down from Burkeville for the weekend and they all drove down to the coast and purchased shrimp from a packing house at Sabine Pass. Neither Mary nor Philip was willing to yield on the issues that had led to their separation and Mary returned to New York City. In 1981 the Ragnarokr co-operative consisted of Bie Engelen, Ruth Lyons, Randy, Bill and Mary Rauton. Consignment workers were Steve Spring, Bie Engelen and Ruth Lyons. Ragnarokr’s total sales for 1981 were $25,976 with payments to the co-op of $7,300 and payments of $5,134 to the consignees. The rent on the building was $6,175 for the year.

In February 1982 George and Philip were still planning to move back to Ontario in the summer of 1982 even though they had not managed to save enough to have made the trip to Texas worthwhile. They were uncertain what to do and how to do it. That summer Colleen realized that this was perhaps her final opportunity to finish her education. After considering other alternatives, she decided to return to school and study to become a nurse. She and George moved to Austin where she enrolled in Austin Community College. Fletcher Starbuck and Madelyn Averette were already living in Austin and Fletcher and George begin working together doing finish carpentry in residencial construction.

Meanwhile under Steve Spring’s careful management, Ragnarokr was making a rapid recovery. Ragnarokr’s sales for 1982 were $36,093 with co-op payments of $9,238 and consignment payments of $10,473. The co-op workers were Randy and Mary Rauton, Kathleen Walsh (Randy’s fiancée) and Bie Engelen. Consignment workers were Steve Spring, Bie Engelen and Ruth Lyons. Steve Spring accounted for 85% of the consignment sales and a large portion of the shop’s total sales. He also assumed the day-to-day management of the shop. Retail sales began to increase after being stagnant for several years.

The following April, Mary Rauton visited friends in Toronto and in Machar Township. She found the property at Frostpocket deserted but otherwise unchanged. In June 1983 she spent a month in Atlanta with her children and her mother. Philip also returned to Toronto in June for a visit. Philip and his nephew Seth Anderson traveled to Toronto together. While in Toronto, Philip worked at the Ragnarokr leather shop for a few weeks before returning to Austin in July. In July 1983 Randy asked his mother if she would help at Ragnarokr should he return to school and Mary agreed that she would.

The leather shop continued to prosper in 1983 with record sales of $34,416 for the year. Mary and Randy Rauton, Kathleen and Philip Mullins received a total of $8,117 in co-op payments while consignment payments of $11,642 were paid to Steve Spring (80%) and Bie Engelen (10%). A shop inventory listed $2,837 in goods belonging to the co-op and $10,188 in consigned goods, 90% of which belonged to Steve Spring. Mary visited Toronto again for the 1983 Christmas season. She worked at Ragnarokr and helped sell mistletoe that George and Jeff brought from Austin. George and Jeff Mullins stopped briefly in Toronto on their way to cut a load of Christmas trees from Jeff’s property near Rye and at Frostpocket.

In the summer of 1984 Randy finished preparation for college and enrolled in the University of Toronto for the fall term. As she had agreed, Mary prepared to leave the Catholic Worker in New York City and return to Ragnarokr. She felt very uncertain about the future. In September 1984 her son, Bob Rauton, accompanied her from New York City to Toronto and stayed with Mary in Toronto for several weeks. Mary moved back into 33 Baldwin Street and Kathleen, Randy’s fiancée, paid for her first month’s rent. Randy and Kathleen were preparing for their upcoming wedding. Mary picked up her work at Ragnarokr where she had left it five years before.

The narrative continues at The Partnership with Steve Spring, 1969-1986

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