But I would bet many of the Baby Boomers reading this blog walked home from school. Perhaps some rode a school bus, but particularly in smaller communities, getting to and from anywhere was generally on foot. Bill always tells our grandkids he walked two miles to and from school each day and it was uphill both ways! He adds that he had to get there early to get the potbelly stove going. Seeings as he went to school on the south side of Chicago, they are appropriately suspicious on all accounts.
But the part where he tells them he stopped each day on his way home from school at a little grocery store to pick up a bottle of Pepsi Cola and a package of Hostess Cupcakes is true. Many of us had similar experiences.
For my siblings and me, our stop was at a little grocery store called Potter’s, just a couple of blocks from our school. I recall that there were several little grocery stores like Potter’s around Columbus. Potter’s just happened to be the one closest to us. And I’m not talking little as in Sprouts as compared to Safeway. I’m talking little – a couple of shelves for groceries and a couple of coolers for meats and cheeses. In Columbus, our little stores also had butcher shops.
There were a few exceptionally good things about Potter’s. One, it was close to school and somewhat on our way home. Two, it had a HUGE candy case full of penny candy. And three, our Aunt Cork worked there. Our happiness at the third fact is closely related to our happiness at the second fact. Aunt Cork was always generous at doling out the penny candy.
Remember penny candy? When it really cost a penny?
You had pixie stix…..
And what about those horrendous wax lips…….
I loved Slo Poke suckers……
And, oddly, I also loved the wax bottles. You would bite off the tip and drink the one-hundredth of an ounce of sugar water that was in there, and then chew the wax (which was disgusting)…..
And how can any of us possibly forget candy cigarettes…….
It’s absolutely bizarre to think about how we would put them in our mouth and then pretend to smoke them, blowing out air in a manner that we felt was highly sophisticated. Talk about an ingenious marketing scheme!
There is a really good old-fashioned candy store in Estes Park that we make sure we visit any time we are in the vicinity. Bill loves the bullseye candy. I usually buy him bullseyes, Bit O’ Honey, Squirrel Nut Zippers, and Snaps. Instead of a penny, I’m lucky if I can get out of the store for under $20, and that’s with just a small bag. Still, the candy cases are beautiful and remind me of the showcase full of candy at Potter’s.
I guess small grocery stores like Potter’s were the precursors for stores such as 7-11 and Circle K. Those stores are a bit more antiseptic and less interesting. The little stores had just about anything you might need, but much less of it. No big coolers full of soft drinks – or “pop” as we called it, but a showcase full of candy, a few fresh vegetables, a cooler that held cheese and lunch meat, counters with canned goods and Wonder Bread, and a little butcher shop. One of my childhood friends and I would stop by Potter’s when we were out riding our bikes and buy a string of frankfurters. Remember when wieners were sold by the pound and were strung together? We would tear a couple apart and eat them right there, sans the bun, cold and delicious. At least we thought so.
The days of little grocery stores is over for the most part. I guess you have the bodegas in New York City, and even Denver has some small markets featuring Indian food or Pakistani food or African food. But no little general grocery stores like Potter’s.
But I have one question. Where-oh-where do people buy their Black Jack gum these days?
Did you have a place where you stopped after school to get a snack?