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Listen My Children , And You Shall Hear, Final

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.

25 thoughts on “Listen My Children , And You Shall Hear, Final”

  1. My youth was so very different to yours, living close to the centre of a huge city like London. Places like your little town were only seen on day trips to the country, or on summer holidays to the coast.
    And now I live somewhere that doesn’t even have one shop! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. A lovely reflection of a simpler time. My grandparents lived in a small town in northern CA that felt like what you describe. For awhile, they ran one of the two small grocery stores in town. Theirs was a magical place; upstairs was filled with interesting (to me) bits of old merchandise, tags, catalogs, etc. I think I’ve mentioned it before in a comment. I have fond memories of that store and visiting. Glad to be reminded of those times this afternoon.

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  3. Another wonderful peek into your childhood. Actually, our town in NJ was fairly small and also fun to navigate. I have very fond memories of freedom and exploration, both of which are not a great idea any longer. I’m glad we had that experience but wish it was still possible.

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    1. It was so much fun to feel that sense of freedom. I hope to get our grandchildren back here where they can explore a little.

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      1. Yes, where you live there is SO much room for exploration. Actually, here too but very different landscapes.

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  4. Wonderful post! I remember our family having one car, one black and white tv, one car, and one phone with no answering machine. My mother didn’t drive so neighbors took her to the store when Dad was deployed. We lived mostly in cities, so I longed for a country life. I agree that a slower pace could give us time to have better relationships with each other and nature. What a wonderful world it would be if we could do that and keep the good things that we’ve learned over the years – advances in health and benevolent science.

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    1. I recently read that more than half the US population lives in just 143 counties. I found that staggering. We are fairly rural and I love it,

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  5. That was very like the town where my grandparents lived in the summer when we visited. When I took the train from there the station man in the nearest larger town literally waved a flag so I could get on. Great details here, Maggie.

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    1. Thank you, Shaily, and Merry Christmas to you as well. I always love reading about places and times I was never able to experience firsthand.

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