Thursday, June 14, 2007

Small Town

I grew up near a small town. Everybody knew everybody. The same families that ran the town in old days, were still running the town when we moved there...and when we left. Tulsa is about 15 miles away, but pretty much everything we needed-you could find it "in town."

The main business section of Main Street was about 5 to 6 blocks long. On one end of town was the lumber yard and the Farmers Coop. There was another feed store across the street. There were several "gas stations/mechanics" on Main; we also had a Tastee Freez and the locally owned "Cardinal Dairy Dip" (they were located on opposited ends of town). At one point, we had three grocery stores. Only one still exists (under a different name). We had a movie theatre--Crown Theatre--where you could see the latest movies...a couple of months after they opened in the big cities. I spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Crown, where $1 paid your admission and got you a "pop" and a candy bar or popcorn!

We always called anything carbonated "pop."
"Wanna pop?"
"What kind?"
"Dr. Pepper."
The other end Main was lined with houses for about 6 to 8 blocks. A lot of them are still there today. I love the houses on Main street. Most of them are "craftsman" style; some one and some two-stories. Some day, I want to move back into one of those houses.

Things were different then. For instance, many of the merchants didn't accept credit cards--in fact, I don't remember credit cards being that common--but, you could buy things on credit simply by signing for it. No credit applications, no lengthy payment agreements. You just went into the store, picked up the things you needed and when you checked out, the clerk simply had you sign the "ticket," or he/she would retrieve a receipt book from behind the counter (every customer had their own book), record the transaction and you would sign that. Once a month, you dropped by the store(s) and paid your bill. Pretty simple. The store owner trusted that if you signed, you would pay. Because of that trust, you were "loyal" to the store owner. In most of the stores, I knew the owner by name and they knew me...just like "Cheers," we would greet each other by name when I came through the door.

One grocery store in particular seemed to cater to the "older folks" in town. "Mr. B." owned the store that had been in town for years. The store was simple; no fancy displays or elaborate shelving; they also had an old-fashioned meat counter in the back. Several of my buddies worked at the store over the years. What was memorable to me about Mr. B's store, was that, no matter how much some of the customers were behind in their credit payments, he never refused to allow them to shop. In fact, I've been told that, on many occasions, Mr. B would cut a patron's bill in half because he knew they couldn't pay. Mr. B was a very generous, caring much so, that the store ended up closing. I suspect his genoristy may have had a lot to do with the store's demise. Mr. B died several years ago, but I think about him and his caring spirit everytime I drive by the old store location...

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." --Matthew 25:40


Neil said...

My grandparents lived in a town like that (only a little smaller). I loved visiting them.

Bart said...

Keith: Believe it or not, there are still at least two businesses here that let you charge your purchases and pay at the first of the following month. Of course gasoline is a bit more expensive now than it was back then. 47 cents! I hate to admit it, but I can remember when it was that low.

Baxter said...

This was great! Memory lane can be great, huh? It made me cry. I really loved my childhood in the midwest. Even though it wasn't great as parents go, I still believed God was with me, and that made it sweet. I miss the simplicity of "those days". I was 14 years old when I got my first savings account in a small town with one bank, and a blinking light, one or two restaurants, no movie theatre, two grocery stores, (I'm sure not unlike yours). I didn't need anybody's signature to get my account or a social security number and I could begin it with just a dollar. There were no fees if you didn't keep a specific balance. Very simple. Yeah! I miss those days. :)

Baxter said...

Oh, couple of other things...
1. I LOVE the "craftsman" style houses that you are talking about. We live where you won't find any of those, new or old. I'm not thrilled about that. But where I grew up, there were PLENTY! Lots of beautiful woodworking and trim! Windows with wooden frames! LOTS of windows and moulding! That would be a dream house. Oh, and a clawfoot foot tub and beautiful wooden railings! Sorry, I could get carried away.

Happy Father's Day!

Keith said...

Thanks for the comments--and additional memories. I plan on writing more about my "small town" as I get time.

Baxter said...

I don't know if this will post alright, but I was directed to this site by my friend at I know it doesn't have anything to do with this post, but it is AMAZING! Though you and your family might enjoy it.