“Forty years later, Jill Greulich remembers when she first heard ‘Same Old Lang Syne.’ [T]he song – which has endured as a yuletide staple since 1980 – holds a place in the hearts of all fans of Dan Fogelberg. The ballad is an autobiographical and bittersweet recollection of a chance Christmas Eve encounter with an ‘old lover in the grocery store’ in his native Peoria, Illinois. But to Greulich, the songs means much more, as she is that old lover.” — Yahoo News, December 7, 2020
I knew that Peoria folks called me “Old Lady Krakenfuss” and didn’t care. Baby Jesus and tidings of comfort and joy didn’t mean much to me after God took my Abner. He was decapitated in a deli slicer accident. I kept the store open on Christmas Eve and wouldn’t you know it, people came in to get their last-minute figgy pudding and Christmas dinner fixin's. Travis had just restocked the Birds Eye vegetables in the frozen foods section when a commotion began after a lady spilled her purse.
—Krakenfuss, former grocery store owner
Every time I hear this song, I remember how Krakenfuss kept her grocery store open on Christmas Eve. She was the richest person in town and the meanest. Anyway, I had to work 11-7 that Christmas Eve and was tasked with restocking the frozen foods. Suddenly, this guy stole behind this lady near expired peel-n-eat shrimps, touched her on the sleeve, and then after some confusion, they hugged. Krakenfuss came out and told them this was a grocery store and not a brothel. Krakenfuss always said her “beloved” Abner died in a deli slicer accident but we all knew Old Lady Krakenfuss, you know, [does that thing of when you drag your finger across your throat in a threatening manner].
—Travis B., former stock-boy
That same thing happened to me and Dan Fogelberg one Christmas Eve. Wow. So weird.
Yeah, I remember that Christmas Eve. These people were talking about how they used to be lovers and I was all “so what.” Old Lady Krakenfuss had threatened to fire me if I didn’t work a full day and I really needed the money. My husband lost his job when the asbestos plant closed and we spent January rent on an Evel Knievel Extreme Stunt Cycle Racer which is all my son wanted for Christmas. Krakenfuss had employee issues. One time, Travis was tasked with building one of those soup can pyramids and as soon as he finished, Krakenfuss knocked it down and told him to start over because one of the cans was askew.
—Brenda K., former cashier
Same thing happened to me. Dan and I dated in college. He stole behind me in the produce section one Fourth of July when he both “happened” to be buying corn on the cob. I didn’t spill my purse because I had all my money in my jean shorts.
Old Lady Krakenfuss owned the liquor store too. She owned everything in Peoria. How’d she get her money? I don’t like to gossip but she took out a bunch of insurance policies on her “beloved” Abner and when he inexplicably got his neck caught in a deli slicer… windfall! Anyway, I do remember that Christmas Eve because a guy named Dan my brother Keith went to high school with came in and bought a six-pack of Schmidt’s beer. Later, I told Keith about it and he deduced that it was likely Dan Fogelberg, that he must be doing well because Keith saw him in the record stores and that he must also be astoundingly cheap for buying Schmidt’s. Schmidt’s was the cheapest beer we had except for Hamm’s and we were all out of Hamm’s. Because the asbestos plant closed and there was a run on cheap beer.
—Jason, liquor store clerk
I saw these two people drinking shitty beer in a Trans-Am on Christmas Eve but they were Caucasian so I didn’t question them. Just wished them “Merry Christmas,” resumed whistling “Silent Night,” and swinging my nightstick. Those were the good old days.
—Officer O’Callahan, chief of Peoria Police
That same exact thing happened to me one Easter Sunday except Dan splurged and got us a six-pack of Budweiser.
I would’ve gotten away with it had Dan Fogelberg written that doggone song!
—Old Lady Krakenfuss’s last words, Peoria State Penitentiary execution room
I loved that Evel Knievel Extreme Stunt Cycle Racer. That was the best Christmas ever.
—Brenda’s son, Jason.
In hindsight, we should’ve been more suspicious of someone named “Old Lady Krakenfuss;” and who made people work on Christmas Eve.