I opened my door and smiled. "What brings you over on a school night, Sweetheart?"
She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head. "Grammy, I have to ask you stuff for Social Studies! You remember things from the old days. Then I write it down."
I tried to cough, but a giggle escaped.
"So what stuff do you want to know, Annalace?"
She pushed hair behind her ears, and took a deep breath. "I have this list. Tell about your hometown. Where did people gather? What impact did it have on you? And..."
"Whoa Girl!" I held up my hand. " I believe you can get your story from those. Land sake. I got plenty to tell you."
"Really, you can think of something to tell me?” She pulled out her pencil, checked the point. and raised it expectantly over her pad. "Okay, Grammy. Shoot!"
I wanted to reach over and tickle her, but seeing her Annalace Ace Reporter stance made me reconsider.
“The most exciting place in our tiny town was the Mt Carmel Grocery.
My daddy would throw me up on his shoulders and jog over there. I'd bump along giggling my head off.
At the grocery door, he'd throw me over his shoulder, and holler, 'Hey Dewey. I brought you a sack of rotten taters. Anything you can do with it?'
Dewey would yell back, 'Looks like sweet taters to me. Bring that tater over here.'
Then he'd point to the well stocked candy case. 'Pick out any two pieces you want. Sweet Tater.'”
Annalace grew very attentive. "What did you pick, Grammy?"
"I liked orange slice candy paired with a chocolate drop."
"I'll take you to a candy store soon, to try it"
"So why was the grocery store such a big deal, Gram?”
"For me and maybe for the entire town, it was a chance to buy some food that wasn't homemade or homegrown. My momma had a saying: 'It's the best thing since sliced bread.' When she grew up one baked bread and sliced it with a knife. Then some companies began baking and slicing bread, and delivering it wrapped and ready for the grocery shelf.
Milk came in glass bottles. Folks didn't need to own a cow to have fresh milk anymore. We could get anything in packages: potato chips, donuts, candy bars, and meat.
It was exciting to see what was new. Besides it was the only place to shop. You could buy underwear and corn seed right off the same shelf with toy trucks, dolls, hammers and nails. "
" Hmm...Like Walmart?"
I snickered, "Well, like an extra small Walmart stuffed tight with all kinds of things.
I couldn't wait to go because Fanny and Dewey, the owners loved me, and treated me like a granddaughter. They were honest and trusted people and tried to bring out their best. Everyone considered them friends, almost family. They were warm and loving to me, and cared that I grew up to be honest too.
They gave people credit, and trusted people to pay their grocery bill as they could. My parents would stop in and buy milk and bread and say, 'Put it on the book, Fanny.'
Once I wanted this paper doll book and asked my momma for it. But she said no. Later, I was supposed to be swinging. I sneaked to the grocery, went straight for the paper dolls, and told Dewey to put it on the book.
When I rounded the last bush, Momma, hands on hips, was giving me the look. I handed it over and faced my punishment."
“I know that look." Annalace nodded.
“Dewey had called Mother. He’d cranked two rings on the phone, and sealed my fate."
"He had to crank the phone?"
"Yes, I'll show you a picture sometime.
"Going to the grocery and to church were special family outings. We cleaned up and wore clean underwear. Momma's orders.
As a teenager, I met a tall handsome boy there. We'd lean on the Coke cooler, sipping cokes and talking. Friday nights, he'd be waiting. Finally he asked me to the prom. That boy was your grandpa”
"You met Grandpa at the grocery store and fell in love?" She snickered.
"Yep. You never know what might happen when you go to the grocery looking good and wearin' clean underwear!"
Annalace wrote fast.
"What did you write?”
"My grandma went to get groceries and ended up married."
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