The flow of life moves us through the years in mysterious ways. In the early 1930’s my Dad and Mom opened a little neighborhood grocery store. They went to the big city and bought $34.48 worth of wholesale groceries, which filled the bed of their Model-A pick-up truck. However those groceries also filled the shelves in their store. The first sale was for a five-cent Baby Ruth candy bar. Mom did not have enough money left to make change for the sale. He promised to return the next day, and he did. The store had few amenities of today’s “Convenience Stores.” Summer sausages hung from nails on the wall. A cheese wheel lay, uncovered, on the counter near the scales. A wooden box of apples, and a crate of oranges leaned against the counter; the only ‘fresh’ items in the store. Dried apples, peaches, and apricots sat in cardboard boxes on a shelf. Only twenty-four and forty-eight pound sacks of flour were available. A few canned staples of pork and beans, sardines, Carnation evaporated milk, peaches and whole kernel corn lined the shelves on each wall. The bread man came early each day with an arm full of Pan Dandy, factory baked bread. The mixed aroma of fresh bread, apples, oranges, summer sausages, and dried fruit made us kids mouth water.
The highway was rerouted through town and forced Dad to build a new store. The new store had two Sinclair gasoline pumps. On top of each pump sat a glass column that was filled with gasoline by us kids by pushing and pulling the lever of the marvelous new age pumping machine. And the new store had a wonder of new items. We had a ‘soda water’ case with crushed ice that made the drinks frosty cold. Dad bought stalks of bananas that hung from a hook in the ceiling giving the store an up-town smell. Perhaps most important was the candy shelf. We had penny and nickel Baby Ruth and Butter Finger candy bars. Bubble gum, big enough to fill our mouths cost one cent each. A cream filled Daisy cookie, as big as your hand, was the greatest treat of all. Most days Dad let us kids have a penny piece of candy, or a soda water, apple or an orange. Christmas brought ribbon candy. The ribbon was about an inch wide, brightly stripped in many colors, folded into loops looked good, but was disappointing in taste. The holiday also brought pecans, walnuts, and Brazil nuts for us to sample.
The men of the community enjoyed the assortment of tobaccos. Dad stocked four brands of ready roll cigarettes; Camels, Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields, and Kools. Of course most men smoked Bull Durham or Duke’s Mixture roll your own tobacco. They only cost five cents, and came in a little white cloth bag, which was great for carrying marbles, coins, and on occasions, live frogs. Chewing tobacco consisted of Tensley, Days Work, and Brown Mule. An assortment of snuffs, Tuberose, Honest, and Levi Garrett kept the ladies of the neighborhood happy. Dad kept their secret secure all those years.
That was the world I grew up in; everyday an adventure. Dad and Mom ran the store successfully for over 40 years, and eased into retirement. But we went off to collage, fought wars, and built our own families in the big city, almost forgetting the past.
However the flow of life continues. We are pleased and excited for our granddaughter, Brittney and her husband John, who have just bought a franchise for a real Convenience Store in the same town I grew up in. That store has everything- cold snacks, hot food, and even electrically pumped gasoline. The cold cases are full of drinks, and the hot coffee bar, with a half dozen flavors, is the freshest in town. Hope you can stop by and say hello. Have soda pop and tell Brittney to put it on my tab.