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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Grocery shopping has changed

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In a conversation with Bernice Bell, a greeter at Wal-Mart, she made a statement that life use to be simpler. She said that when she was young they went to a grocery store at Prairie City with a list and those at the store took the orders for groceries and went back and got them for the customer. Now, everyone is pushing carts all over the store.

She and I grew up in the same era and her comment triggered some of my memories from those days. I can also remember going to the store when Mom told them what she wanted and they got the products off of the shelves and brought them to the front.

In many ways life was simpler, but life was also tough. That was back during the days of the Great Depression when everybody was poor and did not know it. The great war, World War II, followed the depression. That was also a dreadful time with the fighting that was taking place. Nearly everyone got behind the war effort.

Some time during those years, we started hearing about stores where you got your own groceries off of the shelves. As I recalled we called them supermarkets. After hearing about them, they became a reality. Each town had more grocery stores then what is now in existence.

Each town also had neighborhood stores and eventually they all went out of existence. There were still some in Nevada in the '60s. They went out in the '60s or early '70s.

My aunt and uncle at one time lived at one of the neighborhood stores, which my aunt operated. I can remember going there. My uncle worked at the bigger store downtown. The neighborhood store, the larger stores and other stores were owned by his family. His family continues to operate the Jennings Market on the southwest corner of the square in Butler.

At one time there were grocery stores in towns such as Milo, Metz and all of the other towns and many other rural locations. They have all gone out of existence.

When I was young we usually shopped at Jennings in Butler which was an AG store at that time. I can remember that a red AG traveled around to the farms and stopped at our place. Mom often bought some groceries off of the truck. At times, the truck stopped at our place in the winter while dad was milking and it was dark outside. To a little boy that was a big truck, but with today's standards, it was a small truck.

For years, when mom went to the grocery store, she had the boxes of groceries placed to the front of the store, where everybody else placed their groceries. Then when we were ready to leave town we went by the store and picked up the groceries. Every once in a while I think about the times when the groceries were left at the store after being paid for. Can you imagine doing that today, after you had paid for the groceries?

Back in those days a great number of people went to the towns on Saturday night. We at times went to town on Saturday nights and I can remember that there were many people there. Still, a large number went to town on Saturday afternoons, which is when we usually went. For several years when I went to town on Saturday, I enjoyed going to see a movie -- a western with such actors as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The admission for a child was 10 cents. I forgot if it was at the age of 12 or 13, we had to pay 35 cents. For some reason they knew by looking at me that I was old enough to have to pay the higher admission, they no longer would allow me in at the child rate.

The late Chester Whitehead, a barber, related how it was during the years when downtown Nevada was crowded on Saturday nights. He told about the barber shop was full of people waiting to get a haircut and they often cut hair until late (and probably it included shaves).

Is it possible that within a few years, residents of Nevada will be doing their grocery shopping online? I have heard about people shopping for groceries online. It maybe is occurring more that I had considered. This week I was in a conversation with Leslie Bartlett. She has been in places where grocery stores are providing online shopping.

There they get the orders and you see employees of the store with a list going through the store putting groceries in the cart. They are then delivered to the home. Leslie said that the charge for delivery was like $5. I imagine that there are many who would rather pay $5 than to go to the grocery store themselves.

Perhaps after all of these years we are about to make a full circle and we are going back to having personnel at the grocery store getting the groceries for the customer, rather than pushing a cart throughout the store. Maybe things do go in cycles and we are about to enter a new cycle?

Leonard Ernsbarger
Leonard At Large