The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

MOM AND POP STORES

One way our life styles have changed is the way that we buy our groceries. In the earlier times you told the clerk what you wanted, and how much you wanted of it. He or she would weigh out the proper amount, wrap it, or put it in a bag and place it on the counter, along with the other things that you were buying. When everything that you wanted was laid out, the clerk would write the amount of each item on one of the bags, count the items, then count the entries that he had made on the bag. They would then total the entries. That bag with the entries on it was your sales slip. Nothing was prepackaged, if you wanted a pound of lard, the clerk went to the lard tub and weighed out a pound of lard, put it in a little boat shaped container, wrapped it with water proof paper and tied it with string that he pulled from a ball that hung above the counter, in a little cast iron dispenser. The same was true with everything that you bought, whether it was dill pickles, oysters, sauerkraut, sugar or whatever.

You did not go around and pick out things that you wanted, you told the clerk and they would get it for you. Also, at that time, a grocery store sold groceries, a hardware store sold hardware and a drug store sold drugs. You didn't buy clothing in a grocery store, nor did you buy drugs in a grocery store.

In the 1920's there were several neighborhood stores, in Three Rivers. Let me name the ones that I can think of. There was Phillips, on East Michigan (Third Avenue), east of the High School, on the opposite side of the street. There was Nick Blass', on the east side of Eighth Street, south of the railroad, Cliff Maystead's on Broadway near the Paper Mill, Mike Black's on Third Street, also near the Paper Mill. Wellington's was on the southeast corner of Broadway and Constantine Street. There was one on Fourth Street North of Broadway, but I don't remember who operated it. DalPonte's was on the corner of South Main (Sixth Street) and Pearl Street. There was one on Constantine Street that was later operated by Gene Ferrarotti. There was one on West Michigan, later operated by Lyle and Margurite Ferguson and still later by Frank DalPonte. There was one on Walnut Street that was operated by Floyd Havens and then there was the one on Hoffman Street, west of North Main. There were probably others, but I don't think of them, right now.

There are only three of those stores left, now (1990); the Hoffman Street Store, and Maystead's. When I think of those neighborhood stores I am reminded of the size of the candy bars that we got, at that time. Babe Ruth and O'Henry were about the same thing and each had a five cent and a ten cent bar. The five cent one was much larger than the present thirty cent ones (1990), and the ten cent ones were just about all that a pig like me could handle.

Most all of these stores offered delivery service and sold on credit. I guess that most everyone had a grocery bill. We had one just once. It was at the Hoffman Street Store when Carl Alexander owned it. It was handy, in fact, it was too handy, so we paid it off and never bought groceries, on credit, again.

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