The other day I talked about the local candy store. But what about the local general store? For me, this little store was about six blocks from our house. It seemed that it was there from the beginning of time and was as much a part of our community as anything else.
It had many names: I think in the beginning it was “Lambs”, and then “Jim’s”. We had an account there and we would often be sent on an errand to pick up various items for mom. It was cool to say “put it on our tab”, and then sign the little slip of paper with our signature. It was the type of place with a butcher in the back – I think it was Jim himself or his brother. The other key thing about the store was that it was at the corner of the two main arterials – the veritable epicenter of our little community.
As we grew up, this was one of the fun destinations for us kids. My brother, cousin and I were the ones that I remember most often hanging out there. We would saunter on down to the store and buy some candy and a pop (Shasta, sugar pop) to snack on and then sit on the little brick ledge outside of the front corner door. This afforded us a front row view of people walking and driving by. We got the biggest kick out of watching people doing the funniest things on their way home – assuming they were in their own little private world. We’d catch sight of them singing, picking their nose, funny hair-dos, talking to themselves. It would provide for an afternoon of cheap entertainment and laughs.
Sometime in the mid-70s a 7-11 went in across the street. There was the predicable dip in business as we all flocked to try out the new-fangled slurpees, and I think the store might have even closed for awhile.
They eventually reopened and are still there today, while the 7-11 has been turned into a dentist office. It’s more of a coffee hangout now. It’s gone through a bunch of name changes – “The Store”, The Corner Store”, “The Little Store”, which I think it is now - and there is no butcher any more. But you can still pick up the essentials, grab a treat (caffeinated or not), and even hang out on the ledge and people watch if you want.
Every little community’s got one – do you remember yours?