I’m going to Walmart after school today. As I made my list this morning I thought about how different my shopping experiences are now from those of my childhood. My mother seldom made a list, perhaps because what she wanted sometimes had to be adjusted to what was actually available when we got to the market or perhaps because she just didn’t like to make lists.
At least once a month we went to the produce market to supplement whatever vegetables and fruits we didn’t have at home. This often included corn, lettuce, potatoes, and sugar cane (we ate it like candy). The market was huge and it took at least an hour, and a couple of trips back to the car, to gather everything we needed. And there were always neighborhood stands along our route home for watermelons or nectarines or oranges. Most anything else we ate was found in our own garden.
We shopped at a grocery store once a month for things like sugar and flour and lard and mayonnaise. We also bought huge sacks of beans.
We bought bread at a small local bread shop; it wasn’t a bakery, but one of those stores where they sell all the bread leftover from the grocery stores. When I was older we had a freezer and bought lots of “day old” bread and sometimes cupcakes.
We went to the local meat market only for beef or “lunch meat”. We usually killed a hog once a year and kept chickens for year round use. I learned to cut up a chicken when I was about eight. The local butcher had a big display case of meats and Mom told him precisely what she wanted. She often bought a half-pound of this or that, or requested five slices each of four different lunch meats. He didn’t seem to care what she ordered. He even sliced bologna extra thick for her so it would fry nicely. Or sometimes Mom bought a roll of bologna and sliced it at home. My dad’s favorite meat was something nasty called liverwurst!
We often bought our milk at the dairy. The great thing about going to the dairy was that they had a milk vending machine out front that I found fascinating!
We made our last stop at the ice house where we bought a block of ice. I loved to put the quarter in the machine and watch the block slide down the chute! In case you are wondering why we bought ice- we chipped it (with an ice pick) for iced tea and also used it to make ice cream.
I know that “one stop” shopping is convenient. I once saw a couple in line with a battery, a can of paint, a few groceries, and a boy’s suit. Saves time…but I miss the days when shopping was more of an adventure than a chore.