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 Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009

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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:43 am

A Stodghill Says So blog:
One of the advantages, or perhaps disadvantages, of being able to remember back to 1930 and the years that followed is being able to compare then and now without having to consult a history book. To illustrate the point, consider a quarter.
A man with nothing in his pocket but a dirty handkerchief and a comb missing a few teeth doesn't find it a whole lot easier coming up with two bits today than he would have in 1930. That's the similarity. The difference is that the fellow who did have a quarter back then could walk into any corner grocery store and come out with a quart of milk and a pound of hamburger. The family would eat. Today the same man could go into a supermarket and discover the quarter won't even buy a candy bar.
If conditions continue to get worse, the absence of those corner grocery stores may make a huge difference. The old-time grocer knew his customers by name, knew the man and his wife and all their kids. When a family hit rock bottom the grocer would write the last name on a little tan-colored booklet like the receipt books used by waitresses. In some stores you would find a dozen of those booklets, in others fifty or more.
It usually was the wife who asked the grocer to open a book for her family by explaining that money was non-existent but the need for food hadn't changed. He'd handle it like any cash transaction by taking a pencil from the top of one ear and totalling up her "purchases" on the brown paper sack that then would hold them. After that he'd enter the total in the booklet. From then on it usually was one of the kids who would pick up the day's necessities. That figure, too, would be entered into the book.
When the breadwinner came up with a few dollars or even a little change he would stop by the store and pay a little on the tab. The grocer would know that this was difficult for the man, a blow to his pride, so he would make out like running a tab was just the normal way of doing business. When the man found a job he would walk in with a spring in his step and settle the account.
The owner of the corner grocery was a part of the neighborhood. He knew the people, was aware of their problems, saw to it that no one starved and even slipped the kids a piece of penny candy now and then.
It was a way of life in the 1930s. Don't hold much hope of finding it like that at the supermarket any time in the future.
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alice
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:01 am

Change is not always for the better.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:21 am

Many people back in those days ran a bill at the corner grocery. Mama did that for years. Here's a bit from the Last of the South Town Rinky Dinks.
_______________________________________

At the end of 21st, the street made a 90 degree turn to the right, and just around the corner was the grocery store of Mrs. Thompsie Graves. Mrs. Thompsie had been married several times, and ran her store in the same location for years. Later she moved to a new location on South Main Street, and I think she continued in the business until she died.

Mama kept a running bill at Mrs. Gragg's store for many years, and later she also had a bill with Mrs. Thompsie.

Every afternoon Mama would walk the couple of blocks to the store and pick up a little food for supper. The basic daily items were always the same. A quart of sweet milk, a loaf of light bread, and a package of Old Gold cigarettes. After that would come maybe a pound of baloney, (Yes, I know it's spelled bologna, thank you) but regardless of how you spell it, what the Rinky Dinks ate was baloney.) Maybe we'd get some potato chips, or a can of soup or chili, or perhaps a pound of hot dogs or hamburger meat. And that was what we'd have for supper that night.

* * *

Anyway, every day for years and years, when Mama went to the store, she'd always get me and Ray a Butterfinger candy bar and an R.C. Cola. It never varied. Butterfinger and R.C. Every day. We didn't think to ask for anything different, and neither Mama nor Mrs. Thompsie ever thought to throw a little variety into our afternoon snack. Nope. Just a Butterfinger and an R.C. Seems to me that I should have grown tired of them after the first four or five years, but I don't ever recall a single day when I wasn't there waiting when she got home, anxiously waiting on the soft drink and candy bar. I do recall that when the prices of soft drinks were raised a penny, from 5 cents to 6 cents, our parents said we wouldn't be drinking many more of the dang things.

One of my first half-grown experiences came in Mrs. Thompsie’s store. I decided I wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes, but the sale didn't happen exactly the way I'd thought it would.

I started smoking a few cigarettes a day when I was fourteen or fifteen, but I had absolutely no way of getting enough money to buy them for myself. (By the way, it's now been many years since I smoked, but I try not to preach on the subject.)

By this time, I was making the daily trip to the store for Mama two or three times a week. One day, it seemed perfectly natural for me to smile my very sweetest Donald Harp smile, which was ordinarily a pretty good persuader, and politely inform Mrs. Thompsie that Mama wanted to buy two packs of Old Golds today, please, as she had been smoking more lately.

Pretty smart, huh?

Mrs. Thompsie didn't believe a word of it. She refused to let me have the extra pack of cigarettes, and the next day told Mama I'd tried to buy them. I don't rightly remember how I explained myself out of that one, but I know for sure I never tried to buy another pack of cigarettes from Mrs. Thompsie as long as she ran her store.
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:29 am

Dick,
good post. I can relate to that. It happened when I was a kid. The family doctor, the grocer, the farmer down the road where one got his milk, etc. There is a big difference today. Back then there was trust. Today people are taught to trust no one.

The things you describe still exists in other parts of the world where there are local merchants. Even the local banker will give unsecured loans in tough times to the customers.

We dug the hole we are now in. Bigger and better was the theme. Malls putting the local business owner out of business. Try going to a mall or a supermarket saying, "I'll pay you next week." The police would be there in a matter of minutes. I'm waiting for the day, and I believe it will come, when you go into a restaurant and they ask for payment in advance. You can't fill your tank with gas in many places with paying first.

In the past 50+ years, people didn't experience tough times. We lived in the land of plenty and waste. Learning how to do without is a new experience for many, but it can be done.
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:06 am

Well, Don, you found out it was hard to put something over on those old storekeepers. They knew their customers, and that was good.

Abe, my blood boils every time I fill up the tank and see one of those "pay in advance" signs. The first time I came face to face with one I went inside to complain. The clerk said to just leave my credit card until I had pumped the gas. If they wouldn't trust me to pay for it, I sure wasn't going to trust them with the credit card. Now it's "pay at the pump" everywhere around here. Service stations are as dead as the old corner groceries.
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A Ahad
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:28 am

Dick,
It's true what you say. I found the gas pump operators were extremely unfriendly when I was driving in Florida a few years back. They had the pumps locked up with a chain. I had to go inside the station and pay the guy first at the counter before he'd come out and unlock the damn thing to put gas into my chevy.
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Don Stephens
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:23 pm

Dick,

I'd almost forgotten the old corner store. I can remember as a youngster walking the two blocks to the little general store. It wasn't as big as our house. Mom would call down there and tell old man Julian what she wanted, then send me with my wagon down to pick it up. He would have it all bagged up and would put it in the wagon then tell me to pick something from the candy bin. As I think back on it Mom never sent any money with me so I have to assume he just kept a running tab that Dad would pay on payday.
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:32 pm

And we keep saying that the "good ole' days" weren't really all that good. Rolling Eyes
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Abe F. March
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:45 pm

Alj? It is us old folks that talk fondly of those days. They were tough but that made us strong. It made us appreciate the good times yet we were able to cope with hardship.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:02 pm

Actually, Ann, in many ways those days were better than what we live through today. They were simpler, and there was a lot of things wrong in the world back then, but wouldn't it have been great if we held on to the courtesy, the kindness that so many showed to one another, and at least part of the innocence, while going ahead with computers, technology, and the advances we've seen in the medical field as well as in race relations?

We've taken some giant strides forward in the past 40 or so years, but along the way we lost something, and it is that something that so many of us long for, and is the reason we refer to them as the good old days.


Last edited by E. Don Harpe on Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:02 pm

I can remember being a small child and going to the corner grocery. I felt so grown up that I was trusted to walk the few blocks all by myself. I was probably about 4 and was always rewarded with a penny to buy a licorice whip. Today, you can't send that small a child anywhere alone!

We are such a small community here that the local store (Mom & Pop style) does run a tab for some of the customers. They know where everyone lives! They have been bitten on occasion, but they know who they can trust.
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Carol Troestler
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:06 pm

I never felt hardship as a kid. My father lost many jobs and I remember his sadness when he would tell my mother he had been laid off. But we lived in my grandparents house and although we didn't have many material things, I still felt we had it good. (My father didn't even own a car until I was in high school.) Maybe it was because it wasn't about money or things to buy which we didn't often, but just about being safe and having freedom to ride my bike for miles, even into the city, and take the train by myself, and just know someone somewhere cared.

Carol
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:39 pm

It's the freedom that one misses. Children walking safely through neighborhoods, safe at those corner stores, Free to kick a can along a street. I remember a conversation my mom had one day with our housekeeper. It had been raining, and there was still water in the street, and several children were walking in the middle of it. My mom mentioned to Callie that the children were likely to get typhoid or something, and Callie said back: "You don't need to worry about them. You see, we look after our children, but it's God who looks after those."

Maybe that's it. Maybe we've lost faith in a God who looks after children.

Just me.

Ann
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:06 pm

I remember going to buy 2 ounces of Uncle Joe's mint balls for my great grandfather's eighty birthday when I was four. Everyone was stunned!

You can still buy them from the town where I was born (the home of Bewrite Books):

http://www.mintballs.co.uk/

_________________

Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:22 pm

The thing that puzzles me is that so many people today believe there were no sexual preditors in the past. Spending a day in a library reading old newspapers on microfilm might change their minds. They have always been out there.
One of the first things I remember kids being taught in the late 1920s and early 1930s was "never take candy from a stranger - never go near a stranger's car - be especially careful when no other kids were with you - if a stranger approaches you, yell and run to the nearest house - etc. etc. etc."
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Differences and Similarities - 1930-2009

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