Most families when I was growing up had only one car, and some families had none. It was not unusual for my Dad or Mom to drive someone into town so they could buy groceries. And when I say ‘town’, I mean a small grocery store, a clothing store, a 5 & 10¢ store, a doctor’s office, a bank, a drug store (complete with snack bar), a Western Auto hardware store, and a beauty salon with another few stores that came and went. We did have a small indoor movie theater for a while but I only remember going there once.
Even though it was small, it was a big deal to go into town. I remember going to the grocery store with my grandmother and watching her interaction with the butcher who stood in the middle of the store, elevated above the rest of the store. I was fascinated by the huge rolls of white butcher paper he used to meticulously wrap the meat. The drug store was where we were sometimes treated to a vanilla Pepsi or a cherry Coke – all ‘fountain drinks’.
In grade school, I would be given a permission slip to walk into town from school to the beauty shop to get my haircut. Always a pixie haircut which I hated. I cannot imagine a young child walking alone into town and back to school these days. I guess it was safer then and everyone knew everyone.
I also remember going to the bank with my parents or grandparents. That’s where you paid your utility bills and any other ‘notes’ (loans) you might have. It was not at all an uncommon practice when people could not pay their payment to simply pay the interest and it would extend the life of the loan. It was easier to come up with a dollar than ten dollars.
It was a rare occasion that we drove the hour to a larger town where they had department stores and several movie theaters. It was not as exciting because the stores were sprawled out and not as easy to walk from one to the other. There were more people and more traffic. I found it hectic. I guess I’ve always been a simple country girl and the busy environment was not my cup of tea.
Families all lived nearby, so we were with our grandparents a lot until we moved away to Ohio. I was thinking about this as I have been focused on tracking packages this week. First of all, we seldom mailed anything. If people went away for work or to join the military, there were letters, of course, but anyone you might buy gifts for lived close by. And there certainly was not a way to track packages if you did mail something. You just had faith and trusted it would get to its destination eventually.
In the Valley, if you were not going into town, everyone walked everywhere else with the exception of perhaps going to church on Sunday. We walked the railroad tracks (it was faster than following the road) to get where you wanted to go. We knew to watch for snakes and steer clear of them. In the entire time I lived there, I only knew of one person who ever received a snake bite.
The pace was slower and we did not have as many ‘things’, but there was always an ample supply of love. Maybe the slow pace gave us time to bond a little more and disagree a little less. Not a bad trade-off.