Tag Archive | groceries

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings

 

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The other day, I stumbled across an old journal of mine. In this journal, I found stories that I had written about memories from my childhood.  It’s like my blog before there were blogs! These stories were written years ago, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. So, I thought I’d share some with you all…updated, of course, to use more adult language than I used when I wrote these stories. (I figured I wrote most of them when I was about 19!)

I grew up in a little town called Markes, PA. You know these towns. It’s one of those towns that if you blink as you go through, you’ve missed it. The town was big enough to have its own store though, and that is the source of this memory.

Gluck’s Grocery Store was in “down town” Markes. Not only did they sell groceries, but they also sold gas from the one pump they had on the front porch. Being that my grandparents didn’t travel very far, they would often do their grocery shopping here and I’d go along. Selection was limited, but you could get pretty much everything you needed as long as you weren’t particular on the brand name or size of the item.  I remember this place so well, because it was a place that I went to on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis.

As you went up the steps to the entrance, you immediately took notice of the big windows on either side of the door. What treasure troves were in those windows!! My favorite window was the one on the left. It always contained things that interested children. There were barrels full of kites and boxes of little airplane kits to put together. Stacks of coloring books and a basket of balls also graced the window. The other window was not as exciting for a child but excited the adults. Barrels containing new brooms and mops, yard sticks, galvanized buckets, and garden tools filled the window.

As you stepped inside the door, it was like going back in time by today’s standards. I only wish I had a picture of the actual store but  this one I found on the internet comes close to describing how it looked.

Candy Counter Weston

To the left of the entrance was the candy counter. Mrs. Miriam Gluck spent most of her time behind this counter.  I would be given a nickel or dime to spend at the candy counter. There was all sorts of penny candy to choose from! Boxes of gummy fish, licorice whips, sour balls and wax bottles lined the case. There were boxes and boxes of candy bars and Lifesavers, nearly any kind of candy you could think of.  Grandma would always go with me to this counter so she could get her supply of her favorite candy. Mrs. Gluck would scoop pink, white or green Canada mints from jars and put them in a brown paper bag for Grandma. She would mark the price on the bag with a black wax crayon. Grandma also wanted to spend time here for another reason.

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Behind the candy counter, the wall was lined with narrow shelves. On these shelves were tiny shallow boxes filled with sewing notions. All you had to do was tell Mrs. Gluck the color and she would expertly pull the box from the shelf and give you your desired skein of embroidery floss or spool of thread. Other sewing supplies were available. Small boxes of thimbles and needles were on the shelves as well. Grandma sewed a lot, so this was always a stop when we visited the store.

If you went toward the right when you entered the store, you would see the ice cream freezer. Hershey’s confections filled the freezer. You could purchase ice cream by the half-gallon or pint. Pappy would often select several ice cream treats and have Mrs. Gluck’s daughter, Carolyn, fill a bag. Ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars, banjos, and popsicles would fill the bag. Pappy always made sure to get some root beer flavored popsicles (my favorite) and plenty of fudge bars!

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Along the back wall was the meat and cheese counter. What ever you wanted, Carolyn would remove from the case, slice it if need be, and wrap it in brown paper and tie it with string. She too would write the price on the paper with a black wax pencil. Eggs were also kept in this case along with butter quarters.  Near the meat counter was another cooler of soda and a pot-bellied stove with a bench beside it. Here is where the men from Markes would sit and exchange news and gossip. Blair Deaver was a fixture on this bench. He was pretty much always there. Pappy would go to the back of the store to “get the latest” on what was going on in the area and he’d pick up his newspaper while he was there. He’d also eye up the hardware items behind the counter. There were tools, nails, nuts and bolts, and screws for sale all sorted out according to size.

One last stop was the center aisle in the store. This aisle contained bread and rolls, cookies and snack foods. We would take any items we had accumulated up to the counter (it was on top of the ice cream freezer) and Carolyn would check us out. She had an antiquated adding machine that she would add the purchases on. She’d punch in the price of each item and occasionally pull a lever to add the total.

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It was during the check out time that if you needed any “personal” items, you asked for them. I recall several times going with my mother who would ask for feminine napkins. These too were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string so that no one knew what you were purchasing!  Once all your items were bagged, Carolyn would pull the lever on the adding machine to get your final total and you were “checked out.”

We often would get gas before we left. Pappy would pull the car up to the pump and Carolyn would come out to pump the gas. Motor oil was kept in a locked green cabinet on the porch. You’d pay for your gas and you were on your way.

Glucks grocery was a great place to stop in for ice cream or a cold soda on a hot summer day. We would often visit Glucks in the summer to grab some chips and soda to go with hoagies for a quick lunch. I would often leave with candy or a small toy of some sort. My mom and I bought several kites over the years from the barrel in the window.

Slowly, Glucks Grocery began to die. First Miriam Gluck passed away. A lot of the sewing supplies were stopped after that. Keeping up with those and the rest of the store was too much for Carolyn to handle. Then paper routes became popular and people had their paper delivered instead of stopping in to pick one up on their way home. Blair passed away and no one sat on the bench in the back of the store any more. Then the ultimate demise came when Jane’s Market came to Mercersburg. It was a big-sized grocery store and had much more to offer than Gluck’s. Soon, Carolyn stopped selling gas and many other things.

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I hadn’t realized that Glucks was dying. I figured it was doing well still selling candy, ice cream and soda to kids in the neighborhood. I was wrong. I was about 19 years old and was in need of a new ice scraper. I decided I’d stop in and see if Carolyn still had any for sale so I wouldn’t have to go the whole way into town. I was filled with sadness as I walked in the door. Many of the shelves were empty. The adding machine was still there and there was still a fair amount of candy to chose from in the candy counter. The ice cream freezer was still running, but over half of the freezer was filled with Carolyn’s own food supply. The few cans that were still on the shelf were dusty.  The bench and pot-bellied stove in the back of the store was still there but looked as though it hadn’t been used for some time. I knew in a moment there were no ice scrapers there. Carolyn made some chit chat with me and asked about my parents.  She looked sad. I asked her if I could get a candy bar and she opened the case for me one last time. “It’s on me,” she said. I think she was just grateful that someone had stopped in.

A few years later, the store officially closed and Carolyn passed away too. The store still stands, but now it’s someone’s home. The windows are different and no longer filled with a treasure trove of items for sale.

I somehow felt a little resposible for Gluck’s demise. I was now a Jane’s Market customer. But, every time I eat a Canada mint, fly a kite, or eat Hershey’s ice cream from a box, my mind is taken right back to this place that held so many fond childhood memories. There was a lot of love and care wrapped up in those brown paper packages and many memories that I will always have with me.

♥Miriam

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The Not So Strange People of Walmart

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day. I wasn’t in the greatest of moods. I had seen my doctor the day before and he changed my medications around yet another time and I needed to go pick up my new prescription. I had dropped Katie off at Bible school and Dave was fishing with a friend. I had some time to myself for a change, but instead, had to run errands and part of those errands was getting a prescription I didn’t want.

I was upset that I had to have another medication change. I’ve been dealing with uncontrolled hypertension for a while now, and have gone through countless medications in hopes that one will bring those numbers down. But time and time again, I hear those words from my doctor, “This medication isn’t doing the job, let’s try this.” I dread seeing him any more. I have a medicine cabinet filled with meds that I can’t use….money down the drain in my eyes.

As I drove to Walmart, I was thinking about all I had to do that day and about the fact that part of my day was disrupted again by my need for a new medication. “Wonder how much this one will cost, ” I thought. I pray a lot when I’m alone in my van and driving. (I do keep my eyes open, obviously!) I began to cry out to God and implore Him to help me and my doctor find something that would work to change my chronic issue. I found myself actually whining. I’m sure God wasn’t impressed with my prayer that day…it was mainly a lot of complaining.

Finally, Walmart was in view and I pulled into a parking space. When I went inside, they were out of the motorized carts I’ve come to depend upon to get through the store with my arthritis issues. I was feeling defeated. I was dreading hearing what the cashier would say my total was today.  And, on top of that, I’d have to walk all through Walmart on a day I was having some significant pain.

The pharmacy wasn’t busy so I got to be waited on quickly. “Did you know this medication costs $294?” the clerk said. The look on my face told her I didn’t. I didn’t have a choice though.  I paid my bill and started shopping for the remainder of the things I needed.

I needed to get a Father’s Day gift for David. Katie had given me specific instructions to get him a Duck Dynasty t-shirt with Uncle Si on it.  I went to the display where we had seen them before, only to discover the only size left was small. There would be no Uncle Si shirt for Dave. I had to find something else. This only added to my disappointment in the day.

Cards were picked over….I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that one! I was at a loss to know what to get for Dave. I had my mind set on the t-shirt and now it wasn’t an option. I looked at my list of things I needed to purchase, and decided to look for the other things instead.  As I shopped, I tried thinking of what I could get for Dave. The idea finally came that he had been wanting a small chainsaw. Certainly, Walmart would have an inexpensive one. No. No such luck. The only thing left in that department were weed eaters and he didn’t need one of those.

Feeling even more defeated, I went to the check out line. “Really, there’s only 3 lanes open and about 100 people to check out?” I thought. How could my day get any better? I was just about ready to cry at this point.

Then I heard it. Someone was humming. It wasn’t extremely loud, but it was loud enough that I could hear it. The tune sounded familiar. I moved toward the sound. It was coming from the cashier in lane 13. Despite the fact that I usually avoid lane 13 (call me superstitious) and it seemed to be the longest line, I got in line there anyway.

The cashier continued to hum. I was thinking really hard to figure out the tune. I knew the song, I was sure of it.

About a minute went by, and someone decided to open the lane beside us, about 4 people in front of me flocked to the new lane. I stayed where I was. I needed to figure out the song she was humming. “Change My Heart O God“! That’s what she was humming. I was intrigued!

Finally, it was my turn. She began to scan my items, still humming away at the tune. She looked at me and smiled, still humming. I smiled back, “Change My Heart O God.” I said.

“You know the song?” she said.

“Sure do! It’s a good one,” I replied.

“One of my favorites too!” she exclaimed. “Some people don’t like it when I hum, but I was made to praise the Lord and I want to do it all the time. He is good isn’t He?” she said.

“Yes, He is,” I answered. I felt a little guilty as I said it though. I had really not been very joyful that day up to that point. I whined and complained to God instead of thanking Him for all He was doing for me. I left one thing just ruin everything.  “Thanks for your song,” I said.

“My pleasure! Some days, it’s really hard to be joyful and courteous to some of the people that come in my line. But, I just pray that God will change my heart so I will treat those people the way God would want me to,” she said. “I want to encourage everyone I meet. I believe that’s what God put me on this earth to do…encourage others.”

“Well, you sure encouraged me today,” I said.

“Me too!” said the lady behind me. Up to this point, I was oblivious to who was in line with me. I turned and saw an haggard looking woman, probably in her 50’s with a tank top on, heavily tatooed and missing several teeth. (One of those people you see show up in the pictures entitled “People of Walmart.”) “God is great and takes care of all of us, even when we don’t deserve it,” the tatooed lady said.

“I’m so glad I got in this line today!” I exclaimed. “You both have made my day a little better! Thanks!”

“Any time!” said the cashier.

“Yup! It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other!” said the tatooed lady.

I left Walmart, feeling a bit better and a bit lighter because my burden had been lifted. I went to my van, crawled inside and quickly thanked God for all He had done for me and asked forgiveness for doubting that He was caring for me. My heart had been changed by my check out encounter, and because of two ladies who weren’t afraid to share their faith with others.

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The rest of the day went much better and I found an inexpensive chainsaw at Home Depot for Dave. He deemed it one of the best Father’s Day gifts ever!

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I believe these two women were put there just for me that day. God knew I needed some encouragement and He sent two angels, one dressed as a Walmart cashier and one as one of the “strange” people of Walmart. Where ever they are, I hope they continue to share this love and encouragement with others. It meant so much to me!

♥Miriam

Better Stock up! It’s Gonna be a Big One!

My entire town is in a tizzy. They have called for bad weather starting some time tonight. We’re supposed to get snow. No one can pin point down how much we are to actually get. I’ve heard anywhere between 1 inch to 18 inches. I’m not convinced we’re getting anything.  After all, it was 53 degrees at one point today.

However, weirder things have happened. I recall one year, about 20 years ago, that it snowed in April. It’s not April yet, so I guess it could happen. Some of our biggest snow storms have actually come in March. I remember in 1996 we had one of the worst snow storms I had ever seen. I had recently moved to a townhouse in Chambersburg, just 4 months before. We had over 2 feet of snow that storm. Even though I worked less than a mile from where I lived, I wasn’t able to go to work for 3 days! On that 3rd day, the office tried to open, and someone came and picked me up because I still couldn’t drive my car. They hadn’t plowed out our parking lot yet. It took us nearly 20 minutes to go 9/10 of a mile to work. We got there and saw two patients who were able to get out in the weather, and then we went back home. It wasn’t even worth trying to go!  I ended up missing the next 2 days of work after that, not because of the snow. It was because when we got back from that uneventful opening of the office, they were plowing my parking lot. Under all that snow there was a sheet of ice. My foot found the ice and down I went like a pile of rocks and landed (hard) on my tailbone. Ouch! The next couple of days I could barely tolerate sitting down! Ugh!

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So, here we are a few hours before the next big storm and I am amazed how different things are than they were just a few years ago. I remember when I was in school, you would go to school and get dismissed early if it started to snow. Now, here it is, hours before school is to even start, the snow hasn’t even started yet, and all the schools have closed for tomorrow! Really? Is this necessary? What if the storm doesn’t actually come? Will they reinstate school….no.  Churches have already cancelled evening services for Wednesday….did I mention that it isn’t doing anything yet? Businesses are already announcing late openings for tomorrow….are they seeing something I can’t? Government offices are on liberal leave….well, they’ll take any excuse not to actually work!  And even my own workplace has decided that we’re all working from home tomorrow.

When we dropped Katie off for Kid’s Klub this evening, we heard the usual jokes about getting enough milk, bread and toilet paper to hold us through the storm.  David and I decided we didn’t need bread, milk or toilet paper….we’re well supplied at the moment. We were in desperate need of some potato chips though, and so we went to the store. Chips were picked over….perhaps everyone else had the same need. There was still plenty of toilet paper, milk and bread. I think they overstocked to prepare for the madness.  I tried so hard not to laugh at the woman in the check out in front of me. She had 2 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs and 6 tubs of cream cheese. The guy before her had …you guessed it, milk, bread and toilet paper.  The lady behind me had eggs, butter and flour….I think she planned to bake!

I’m ready for whatever comes. I’m prepared to work from home, and if I do work from home, I plan to rise early and get most of my day in before my daughter wakes up. Then, if there’s time left in the day, we’ll watch some movies and munch popcorn, and finish riding out the storm.

Job 37:6 says, “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” (NIV).  It doesn’t matter much if we want it to snow or not, nor does it matter if we’re ready for it or not. If it’s to happen, God will speak it into being.  We’ll survive without milk and bread. After all, doesn’t He also tell us in Matthew 4:4  “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” So, I think I’ll partake of some of His “daily bread” and spend some time in His Word tomorrow as we wait out the storm.  Are you adequately prepared for the storms in your life?

♥Miriam

 

How a Shopping Spree at the Bent & Dent Requires a Remodel of my Kitchen!

BB's Grocery in Newburg, PA

BB’s Grocery in Newburg, PA

I had no intention of going to BB’s Grocery in Newburg, PA today. After all, we didn’t really need much from the grocery store, just eggs and bread. But Dave thought this might be a good day to go since….1. We hadn’t been there for a few months, 2. Katie was at camp and wouldn’t complain about having to go through the freezer. 3. We could use the money we usually use for groceries to stock up on some things we use a lot and get a little ahead. -and- 4. We were babysitting for our in-laws and needed to find something to entertain a 3-year-old boy that just wants to be with “Uncle Dave.”

So, we headed to Newburg. I was sucked in the moment I walked through the door. Bell peppers were right inside the door in a huge bin marked at $0.49 each…yes, I think we could use some peppers. Next up, cauliflower $1 a head…why yes, I’ll take that. Roma tomatoes for $0.10 each…I think so! 3 lb bags of gala apples for $2.19…oh my, yes!  I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t any zucchini, after all that has become a “staple” vegetable at our house. But, my disappointment soon turned into joy as I rounded the corner and found bottled water $2.00 for a 24 pack!

We got about a 1/3 of the way through the store and already our cart was over half full.

In the freezer at BB's Grocery

In the freezer at BB’s Grocery

It was time to head to the freezer. Aaahhh…that glorious frozen wonderland of bargains! We scored big in the freezer section today! There was Turkey Hill ice cream by the half-gallon for $1.50 each. We found Bronx Bombers Sundae (it has to be good…it has the Yankees logo on the box!) and Gertrude Hawk Box of Chocolates (which I have had before and loved!) We found Freschetta pizzas, Marie Calender’s meals, Hanover frozen veggies, Smart Ones frozen desserts (yum!), Mrs. Smith’s pies, Bob Evans breakfast sandwiches,  and Mama Lucia meatballs. We go through the freezer quickly, after all it is mighty cold in there! We end up going through about 3 times until we decide we’ve seen it all.

The refrigerator section was a palace of dairy goodness as well today! There we scored 3 bags of shredded cheese for $1.50 each, a stick of turkey ring bologna, Turkey Hill Diet Green tea in the gallon jugs for $1.89….a real steal!  We got a block of sliced American cheese, hot dogs, Hillshire Farm sliced turkey in the family sized pack, and then we saw it! (Insert the Hallelujah Chorus here!) A whole pork loin for $20!!! We brought that home and sliced it into our own pork chops. We ended up with 30 pork chops, which is the equivalent of 10 meals for us!!!

We made it through the rest of BB’s rather quickly after that, but not until our cart was overflowing! We found Delmonte canned veggies for $0.69 a can, canned mushrooms 2/$1 as well as canned sliced black olives for the same price, Campbell’s soups, enchilada sauce, bread and butter pickles (our family’s favorite) for $1 a jar, canned salmon, canned chicken, and Extra chewing gum in dessert flavors for 10 packs for $1! We usually have to pay $1 per pack for that!

The left side of the cupboard.

The left side of the cupboard.

As we went to the checkout, I began to worry what the total would be. At a regular grocery store, a cart this full would easily run around $350. (I feel pretty confident in that estimate as I monitor prices pretty closely and consider myself a bit of a coupon diva!) I watched the Amish girl who was checking us out enter in item after item. I was concerned because there was an awful lot of meat in the cart and some normally “big ticket” items like coffee and cheese. I watched, holding my breath until she hit the total button. “That will be $149.36 please.” Wow! What a savings!!!

As we traveled home, I began to formulate how I’d get all these items put away. Of course, the frozen and refrigerated items would go in….well…the freezer and the fridge…duh! I decided that this would be a good day to clean out my cupboards and get rid of some of those things we didn’t use any more (i.e. “Let’s get rid of mis-matched stuff.”)

When we arrived home, we heave-ho’d all our loot into the house, and I got to work. I started on the cupboard I thought  would give me the most room once cleaned out. I pulled out all the unwanted items and created a whopping 1 foot x 1 foot space. Oh boy….I needed way more space than that!

The right side of the cupboard.

The right side of the cupboard.

I started on my food cupboard next. I decided the best thing to do was to empty the entire cupboard and start from scratch. About a half hour later, I discovered I now had 10 cans of mushrooms! But, since we go through about 4 cans of mushrooms a week, that’s not such a bad thing! We also have enough soup to last quite a while! I have enough spaghetti sauce to have a charity spaghetti dinner and feed about 70 people! But none of it expires any time soon, so it’ll get used. It took a good half hour to get this cupboard looking good, but I realized that there was still so much more to find homes for!

We had found quite a few spices for a tiny price, so I decided to start on my spice cupboard next.Once again, all the contents were removed. Duplicate spices were combined if I was able. This cupboard also houses all my teas. Well….they needed organizing too! Another half hour later, and my spice/tea cupboard was gorgeous! But….there was still quite a few items that needed a space!

My teas and spices

My teas and spices

I called Dave to help me. The next cupboard was a bit out of my reach….(I’m vertically challenged). So, he agreed to help with this cupboard. It didn’t take nearly as long with 2 of us working at it! This cupboard now contains all of my pastas and mixes and is right above the stove. I discovered that we will soon need to return to BB’s because I have 3 canned icings and no cake mixes. (The icing wasn’t purchased today!)

My kitchen still looks like a mess, but only because I haven’t figured out what to do with those odds and ends I removed from the first cupboard I tackled. (Oh yeah, that 1 foot x 1 foot space is now full of sprinkles for icecream and cookies!)

Now, the refrigerator…..that’s another story. It looks like a disaster area! Everything is just shoved in where ever it’ll fit. Ugh! I’ve decided the best thing I could do is just remodel the kitchen! I’ve been wanting to strip the wallpaper and paint anyway. And while we’re at it, we may as well add a few cupboards and get a larger refrigerator/freezer. Perhaps an addition on the kitchen would be good….a walk-in pantry would be nice.  Hmmmm…..maybe I should go to BB’s more often. If I came home with this much stuff every week, Dave would have to agree to a remodel right? 🙂

Nah, I don’t need a remodel. (I would like to paint the kitchen though!) I do see that we are going to eat well for the next few weeks! I feel blessed that we have places like this in the community to help those of us on a tight budget to make ends meet and stock our pantries at the same time!  I doubt that I will need to go for groceries (other than milk, bread, eggs, fresh veggies and yogurt) for a few weeks!  I’m happy to know that my family will be well fed for just a little. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this day of plenty!

Mixes and pastas

Mixes and pastas

♥Miriam