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the Old Corner Grocery Store
Reflections of my childhood...
It had a number of names over the years, Barnett’s, the 24th Street Grocery, Freddy’s, Riley’s…, but whatever the name up over the door, it always remained the same, the little corner grocery store located on the corner of 24th and Bay Street in Bristol Tennessee, my hometown. If someone was running out of milk or needed an additional loaf of bread, the corner grocery store was the answer. They even had kerosene, for some of our neighbors didn’t have electricity at first and kerosene was used for lighting in oil lamps in some instances, and also some heaters used to warm the homes during cooler temperatures.
...also a gathering place.
The corner grocery store was also a gathering place. Since the area was rural, the school bus was unable to go down each street to pick up all the kids, so we would come from all over the neighborhood and gather in the early morning hours to catch the bus for school and then after school each day the kids would get off the bus at the same place. Sometimes we might have a dime left over after the $ .25 or $ .35 lunches, so many of us would stop for a RC Cola and moon pie or chips, peanuts, or candy. Licorice and most of the individual candies were just a penny a piece at first, but later went up to two pennies when the cold drinks rose to $ .06 a bottle. Inflation, but we didn’t know about that until much later.
most mothers needed to sew on buttons or repair a tear or two
Soap powder, cans of soup, tobacco products both smoking and chewing and luncheon meats were the main products I guess. Also, needles and pins, even a few colors of thread since most mothers needed to sew on buttons or repair a tear or two in the boys shirts and breeches. Just about anything needed in a hurry or just to last until the families would go down town for weekly groceries on Saturdays.
Did you have money left over from your school lunch?
all the milk and cold drinks came in glass bottles...
There was no plastic containers either. All the milk and cold drinks came in glass bottles, and no machines to dispense the drinks. They were kept in a long cooler with overlapping lids that would slide from each end towards the middle. The milk would be in one end and the cold drinks or ‘pop’ would be in the other end. The coolers also had an opener on the side and each day the owners would have to empty the opener of all the lids from the soft drinks. I liked to help empty the lids so I could collect at least ten Coke bottle lids for free entrance to the movies on Saturdays, if the mowing was finished for the week.
Placing the money and a note in one bottle...
The milkman would deliver milk to most homes every other day or so and pick up the empty bottles to take back to the milk plant for re-use. I can remember my mom counting out the milk money at night and placing the money and a note in one bottle telling the milkman what to leave the next day. There were only quart bottles, no half gallons or more since plastic had not been invented yet to use for milk containers. But if you happened to run out of bread or milk early, and with three growing boys and a girl all drinking milk the chances were that you just might before the milkman would come back the next day, there was always the little corner grocery store...
© 2010 SamSonS