Growing up in a small town, we only had one store. Everybody stopped at this store, since the next larger store was ten miles away. It was a small store containing only the essential items, but our store was ours and it satisfied our needs.
Every day after delivering the local newspaper, my brother and I would set off for the general store. As we came up the sidewalk, the store owner’s dog would come up to greet us. And usually somebody was sitting on the porch, drinking a Red Cream Soda, and chewing on some licorice whips.
Before we would go in, we would chat with the fellow for the local gossip. Then we would peruse the bulletin board for the local news and read all of the for sale signs. It was a ritual that was done before finally going into the store.
When you opened the door, our mouths would begin to water because of the tempting displays and sweet aromas in the air. The store owner would purposely place all of the snacks in plain view. The licorice whips, the candy bars, the All-Day suckers, and the ice cream box – all in plain view, all there to tempt us. In the back of the store was the less important stuff, or so we thought at the time.
As one walked around the wooden floor, we would try to walk as softly as possible in order to not make any noise. We would walk circles around the shelves, taking our time to decide on what we would buy. When we finally decided, we would take our goodies to the counter on which an old time cash register was set. The owner would always smile and ask how we were doing that day.
As we left the store, we would forget about the creaking wood floor and march out the door, sometimes deliberately trying to make the floorboards squeak. As we made our way out the door, we would grab a soda bottle from the machine and sit on the porch. You see, it was our turn to greet incoming customers and deliver the local gossip.
Written on June 28, 1984