Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
TITLE: The Store
By Leola Ogle
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As a child in the 50’s, life was good. We were poor, but I didn’t know it. I had good parents. Our house was clean, I had clean clothes, and I was never hungry. Were we really poor?
For me, life as a child was uncomplicated and innocent. On second thought, it wasn’t completely innocent – trauma and tragedy did happen, but time and God brought healing.
Unexpected childhood memories often flit into my mind like sparks from a campfire. Some pierce my heart with sadness until I remember I covered some events with the blood of Jesus. Most memories make me smile or laugh, soothing me like a comfortable bathrobe.
To my friends and me, it was The Store. One friend’s mother, who spoke broken English, called it the shop. Nestled in the neighborhood, The Store’s only customers were neighbors because it was that hidden away. It would not make it in today’s health department standards. It was a mom-and-pop store in the living room of their home. One room, but a large room. They sold a little bit of everything.
To a child with a nickel, it was heaven. Cherry ball candies were three for a penny. They were unwrapped and the store owner scooped them with his hand into a bag. Six cherry balls and a three-cent Picnic candy bar could be had for a nickel. It was enough to share with friends.
A nickel also bought an eight-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola. To a child whose parents never bought soda pop, it was a bubbly, fizzy treat that tickled as it slid down my throat. A nickel also bought a Popsicle – the kind you could break in two and share with a friend, or eat half now and half later. Confession: I never saved half for later. The pull of that sticky cold sweetness was irresistible.
On a hot summer day, a Popsicle or a Coke made this little girl giggle with delight.
Money to spend as a kid was a luxury in our home. A weekly allowance was unheard of. I usually got spending money if I picked cotton on a Saturday with my parents. My older brother and I could keep whatever we made. I was an eight-year-old lollygagging dreamer dragging my burlap bag behind my parents’ long white canvas bag, complaining because the cotton bolls were sharp and pricked my fingers. My only motivation was the shopping trip money would provide.
I still remember the thrill of the clink of coins in my hand when the boss weighed my bag of cotton. It was never much – a quarter, two if I’d worked extra hard. My mind was already filled with thoughts of a trip to The Store. A quarter was a fortune in my child-mind. I could get a Coca-Cola, a Popsicle, candy, and a bag of potato chips. My mouth would salivate and my eyes dance with anticipation.
Living in a poor neighborhood taught me the value of sharing. Being poor taught me the value of money and hard work. These were lessons taught in my Sunday School classes that I lived out every day. But I was an adult before I fully understood Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (NIV)
Now children dream of the latest techie gadgets, the newest electronic device. A quarter is a pittance, a penny not worth the effort to bend down and pick up.
I often wonder whatever happened to The Store. Without a name, a Google search brought me nothing. I guess it doesn’t matter. What does matter is my fond memories of the man and woman who owned The Store and their kindness and patience with the dusty, tousled children who came in to spend a shiny coin.
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