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the Old Corner Grocery Store

Updated on February 4, 2017

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?

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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


Submit a Comment

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks 50, I always enjoy your visits, comments and nice ratings; been missing you though...

  • 50 Caliber profile image

    50 Caliber 

    8 years ago from Arizona

    A time warp hub, it took me back to a time of being a kid with the gallon syrup pails for lunch buckets to tote our own lunch in, I wanted to be like my dad and have a thermos as well, but back then thet were glass and one drop and they broke and being allowed only one a year it was over with. The little store in a mining town was different than the south and the country stores I saw there as a kid on vacation to the boot heel of Missouri when visiting my dads mom. A whole different world I found to be amazing as a kid. I collected road side bottles in a tow sack and cashed them in for week end fun, 50 bottles brought a dollar the bought a lot of things, from a trip to the movies to a gallon of gas, pack of Lucky Strikes, box of 22 shells leaving enough for a big candy bar and soda. Ah, the things kids will no longer experience and I doubt they want to.

    Great hub and memories, voted up, 50

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks dahoglund, for your comments; yes I remember 'gathering' pop bottles and taking them to the store to get a 2 cent refund for each empty bottle...

  • dahoglund profile image

    Don A. Hoglund 

    8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

    Yes, I remember these. The usual way to get a bit of spare change as a kid was to hunt for empty pop bottles and sell them back for the deposits.

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks Bro Dave for sharing your reminisce. Sound like your mind also wandered back to a more simple time of reflection and adventure...

  • Dave Mathews profile image

    Dave Mathews 

    8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

    samsons1: You have awakened such fond thoughts from my childhood. Thank you. That little corner store was a place where many an hour were spent with long-lost friends. There was also the neighborhood cinema where one could watch the newest of productions out of Hollywood for a quarter(25cents) with a big container of hot buttered popcorn and a Coca Cola, and if you'd done your chores, you could buy a treat of frenchfries, afterwards with your friends.

    Brother Dave.

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thank you saddlerider1, for sharing your time of reminisce.


  • saddlerider1 profile image


    8 years ago

    Oh there are too fond memories to remember, I have so many. You however did bring back a few and I thank you sir for doing so. It's a fuzzy feeling to go back when life was so much easier, never had to lock ours doors that for sure. peace sir.

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    hank you drpastorcarlotta, for your sweet comments.


  • drpastorcarlotta profile image

    Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

    8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

    Memories are always a blessing, especially the good ones! Thank you for going down memory lane. Bless you!!!!

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    *thanks drbj for your nice comments...

    *and thank you Marliza for sharing your reminisce...


  • Marliza Gunter profile image

    Marliza Gunter 

    8 years ago from South Africa

    wow..yes..I remember those milk bottles...even here in South Africa we had the milk man bringing us milk right unto our front porch...and the small keffies (shop) with a pool table and all the kids would gather after school at the I could have those days again..the air was clean, birds singing and us kids pulling pranks on every one...those were the days.. :)

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    8 years ago from south Florida

    Great reminiscing, samsons, thanks for the deja vu. Does anyone sell Moon Pies any more?

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thanks carolina for your comments. I guess WalMart has replaced many of the small community stores...

  • carolina muscle profile image

    carolina muscle 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I miss the corner cigar-candy store .. those are long gone!

  • samsons1 profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Tennessee

    thank you my dear friend "Quill" for your rapid response and for sharing your reminisce.

    blessings to you my friend...

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Wonderful memories, the lunch pail was a Rogers Syrup Can and well believe it or not at times all there was in there was bacon fat sandwiches, unheard of today.

    In the end I suppose it never killed me as I still am here to write about it.

    Blessings and Hugs


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