Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Corner Grocery

Just down the way from my childhood home one could easily duck into a local, corner grocery.  In one direction was A&K; in the other, Ward's (later to become Mac's) - mother's preferred site.



As a youngster I have no recollection of my mother ever going to a super market, much less a Costco or Sam's Club.  Such mega shopping venues simply did not exist at that time.  No doubt she did make trips to larger grocery stores, though in truth you couldn't prove it by me.  So far as I knew, the entire world of edibles came from Ward's store.  It also marked the southern boundary of my world as a child; a world that stretched but one block in any direction.

It was not uncommon for Dad to lavish upon me a nickle or dime on Saturday afternoon so I could make my own choice(s) at the store.  Oh what a gleeful event was that!  For minutes on end I'd ponder the assortment contained in the ice cream cooler or soda rack; or I'd stand in awe before the shelves of penny candy.  Nothing was quite so satisfying as walking away with an itty-bitty brown bag filled with choice morsels, or to saunter home sipping from a bottle of Orange Crush.   

Only one thing deterred or daunted me on my shopping escapades:  the dogs that gathered outside the store.  Some I recognized & trusted.  Others were unfamiliar, and sometimes mean-spirited.  Though my home was but four doors from the store, it seemed a terrible distance when a dog nipped at my heals.  I learned to flee like the wind to escape them (even as family cautioned me to never run).  With no leash laws, nothing prohibited their torments.  To this day, I hesitate whenever I encounter a strange dog.

On other occasions mother would dispatch me with a note that I was to present at the store counter.   On it she would list her needs:  butter, flour, eggs, coffee, etc.  I would wait patiently (or eyeballing the penny candy in preparation for my own, next purchase) while the owner or a clerk pulled the requisite items from the shelves.  As each item was set on the counter, they'd enter it onto their charge ledger.  Then, using a machine the size of a Volkswagen (or so it seemed to my wee eyes), they'd calculate the cost and give me a receipt.  Little did I know that these stock items weren't free; and that my Dad would pay the grocery bill at the end of every month.  

I cannot think of simpler times without Ward's Grocery coming to mind.  It is reminiscent of the vitality that was associated with a neighborhood, or equated to the original context of community.  As far as I knew then, the whole world existed but a few houses, or churches, or parks, or grocery stores from my own home.  On some level, it still does. 

12 comments:

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

This is great...such a simpler time and yet, isn't that a heart issues also? Our new neighbor next door has made a fan of my five year old son..I think he will adopt her as his grandmother...there are still people around that take us back to the simple times, right here in our fast pace society.

skoots1mom said...

MY GRANDFATHER LIVED ABOVE HIS GAS STATION/LUNCHETTE...IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A TINY, ALABAMA TOWN...HOT YET THE COLDES COKES EVER! $.25 WAS A HUGE DEAL TO ME...A CHICK STICK, AN ARCHIE'S COMIC BOOK AND A COKE. I'D EVEN ENJOY RUNNING ACROSS THE STREET TO "COLONEL'S" COMPETING GAS STATION AND BUY HIS ICE CREAM, HAHAH! THE BUILDING IS STILL THERE BUT IT IS ALL STORAGE NOW.
FUN MEMORIES ;)

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, Loved reading this because it brought back memories of our little corner store. I remember walking there-simpler times-it was quite a distance.
I also remember a candy store all the kids went to and my dad's grocery store(not his but where he worked). Thanks for bringing back such great memories.
Hugs, Noreen

Sonja said...

I'm zipped right back in time to "Gertmenian's", our corner store. Always, a big dill pickle out of the barrel, and plenty of treasures to feast my eyes on. There were still choices, but not at all like today. I have one foot back in that store, and yet the rest of me hurries to Costco and Whole Foods every week. :)

I always love a step back in time, and this one paints pretty much the same picture I remember. Have these years raced by or is it just me??

xo

Maryann said...

I remember getting an entire bag full of candy at a ball game for 50cents, (of course it was to be shared by all my siblings, there was four at the time) having that much money to spend on candy was a fortune in those days. Enjoyed going down memory lane with you.

RCUBEs said...

Worth being reminisced minus the "dogs" :{

I miss those days growing up when my mother had to buy stuff daily from the nearby market, carrying her woven basket. I got excited when I saw her shadow coming home and bringing some goodies for me!

I had bad experiences with a couple of neighbor's dogs that I still get antsy upon seeing the big ones like those mean ones I encountered.I'm glad that when I see the K-9 units, the dogs are inside their cars! :)

Debbie said...

Oh I too remember our little corner Market...(though we did have the big grocery stores too) Moody Market where us kids were allowed to walk..we went two or three days a week in the summertime just for something to do. I can remember the penny candy and the little brown bags and the dime that would buy you soo much you coud makes that dime stretch through 3 visits. How I loved it. Thanks for bringing back this memory! Have a wonderful day...HUGS

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

Living out in the rural area, there was a store about a mile away....at least it seemed so! My younger sister and I would walk there...I can remember how the floor sounded - those wooden floors that had been cleaned by the same substance used in the old school buildings...I remember it was green looking...loved going there, though! Thank you for the memories!

Debbie said...

I loved this walk down Memory Lane Kathleen! Life seemed so much simpler back then. I remember going into Woolworth's with my grandfather. We'd sit on a stool and order and ice cream. And my mom used to send me to Margie's to get bread for 32 cents. She would give me the change down to the penny too. Thanks for the memories.

Love you,
Debbie

Rebecca said...

In the mid 70's our family lived in an older neighborhood with a small family-operated grocery store in it. (A few years later, it closed.) It was famous for its great meat section...It sure was nice to walk a block and a half to fetch what we needed. (A little more expensive than the supermarkets, but oh, so handy!)

Rosezilla said...

Ah, for the times when you could say "milk, bread, eggs, butter" etc. and everyone knew what you meant! Now the variety is so endless it is sometimes paralyzing! (And hard to shop for someone else!)

Just a little something from Judy said...

This was a fun memory time for me as I read your little girl's heart describing all that you so fondly remembered. I had country store memories too, although it was too far for me to walk to. I still remember Mr. Binkley's kind words when my mother and I entered the old wooden door to his store. Penny candy was the biggest temptation for me, and once in a while my dad would give me a nickel to buy some. Precious memories of a much simpler time in life. Thanks for leading me there in your skillful way of writing.