One of the perks of growing up in a country grocery store was befriending the salesmen who were almost always generous to a child reading her latest Nancy Drew mystery while lying on bags of scratch feed for chickens or on top of the meat freezer in the back of the store.
Mr. Jacobs who sold candy always let me get in his truck and pick out a favorite confection. My choices included Rainbow coconut bars, Tom’s peanut butter logs, Sugar Babies, Slo-Poke suckers, and Victory candy cigarettes, the package of which looked suspiciously like Viceroy tobacco ones. Years later, after I had left home and Daddy had sold his store, I called Mr. Jacobs one Sunday and told him I wanted an old bubblegum machine as décor for my apartment at college. I was not surprised when he provided. I still treasure that gumball machine.
The Dr. Pepper man, knowing my love for dogs, was easily convinced to find me an embroidered patch with Frosty, the 10-2-4 Dr. Pepper dog on it. Frosty is holding up a drink bottle, saying, “Frosty, Man, Frosty.” I sewed the patch on my denim jacket.
Another perk was that in “simpler times,” many staples in a grocery store came with gift items inside or packaging that could be repurposed. Flour sacks made beautiful pillowcases, and some had dishrags or drying clothes sewn into the ends of them. Laundry detergent had pieces of china in the box. Depression glass was inside oatmeal boxes.
But today I am thinking about a very specific drinking glass that came inside of the big boxes of bubblegum Daddy bought for the store. The tumbler was red and gold with a Thai goddess on it. Mama thought the glasses were somewhat hideous, but my godmother Meddye found a way to make them exquisite, at least to my eyes. They brought just enough red into her pink and white kitchen to make it the prettiest kitchen I had ever seen.
For my birthday this year, my friend Nadya took me to lunch and then to the antique mall where she got me six of those red glasses. They’re sitting on the table in my pink kitchen now. To the untrained eye, they appear to be empty, but, in fact, they are running over with memories.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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