To Market, To Market

I just got back from a quick trip to the grocery store. I only wanted one thing and the store is less than half a mile away, so I walked. Although rain had been predicted, it was beautiful and breezy and a great day to be out. When I was growing up, there were no less than five different grocery stores in my hometown of just twelve hundred people. There was an A&P and a Red Owl, plus several privately owned establishments. One of those carried a full stock of groceries but specialized in meat. Another displayed produce on tables outside the store during the summer months. I remember begging my mother for Bing cherries when they came into season. Rainier cherries had yet to exist or I’d have probably thrown myself flat on the sidewalk for those. We lived in town and our family only had one car, which my father used for work, so we walked everywhere. There was a bakery and a jeweler on the main street of town and there were two stores that sold and repaired radios and televisions. One of them had a small listening booth for sampling records. There were two soda fountains, one of which sold candy by the pound. The other was a hangout for local teens. The bank was on a prominent downtown corner. There were two drugstores, a Rexall and a Walgreen’s. There was a hardware store and a sporting goods store with a a shoe department, plus two five and ten-cent stores. There were a couple of clothing stores and a fabric store that sold mainly upholstery fabric so we drove twenty-five miles to buy sewing material at a Penney’s in a town of almost eight thousand. The edge of town boasted an A&W plus a Dairy Queen. There were a couple of mainstream eating places and of course, because it was northern Wisconsin, several bars. Today I walked to the smaller QFC instead of the large Fred Meyer store, where I can buy not only groceries, but clothes or appliances, pharmacy items, and furniture. Both QFC and Fred Meyer are owned by Kroger, who is currently in the process of trying to acquire the Safeway/Albertson’s combo. I imagine there used to be a fair number of small privately owned businesses in the area where I live now. And I realize my old hometown doesn’t have all the individually owned stores I remember either. But still……………what the heck?!?!


Picture courtesy of me, Mary Kunkel, from a 1960’s postcard of my hometown Eagle River, Wisconsin

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1 Response

  1. Fischer Judith says:

    Though I grew up in Chicago, your description reminds me of the neighborhood I grew up in. The corner grocery store, the drug store with a soda fountain, the 2 local bakeries, the kosher butcher, and of course restaurants. We also walked everywhere because my father took the car.

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