Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and remember the days of your youth…
I grew up as the only boy to my mother’s two daughters and the youngest of my family. I remember well times spent riding in a white ford pickup truck with my mom on Saturday mornings running errands. We’d go grocery shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery eight miles away in Florida and then stopped for other essential items at the Bill’s dollar store located right next door before returning home.
We grew up on my grandfather’s land, a large 20 acre farm in the woods of Florida. Our family lived in the country lifestyle with occasional trips into town. Mostly my sisters and I stayed at home because we couldn’t afford many visits further into town. Public libraries and other social outlets and activities were just too far away.
So we kept our visits to town or “the Can” as I used to call it to my sisters and parents.
Shopping on Saturdays was my social outlet of the week since my parent’s really didn’t attend church growing up. There were brightly lit grocery store aisles full of food and people and things to look at that never seemed to grow old. I’d see some of my classmates and shyly would grin at them too terrified to speak and more than likely they were too shy to speak to me.
But the grocery store visits… I really enjoyed it. My mom would go around the store looking at prices and putting some items in the grocery cart as she attempted her best to make the meals out of a week’s worth of shopping. This was back in the day before grocery store scanners too which made for an even more interesting experience because sometime my mother would put an item in her cart that didn’t get priced with stickers. My mom would hold up the others waiting patiently in line and giving blank stares non-verbally saying they’d rather be doing something else than shopping for groceries on a Saturday.
I grew up poorer than other kids my age. I’d stare at the food selections my mom would gently place into the cart and think about how tasty those food items would be once my mom magically would transform a box of dry spaghetti mix into an amazing dish of noodles, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. I’d daydream about other meals of the week when my mom would place some frozen vegetables or entrees into the cart. I’d also sit back in the car on the trip home daydreaming about scarfing down the packages of food in a hunger filled attack.
I did always enjoy going out with my mom since my dad worked all day Monday to Friday and visited his brother and sister far from the small town where I lived. Older people weren’t all that interesting to me back in my youth. Since my dad was gone Saturdays, I never really did get to experience a lot of time around him growing up and even though I miss that contact now looking back I know that was how it was to me. I realized my mom was the most important thing to me and our closeness was confirmed with each and every shopping trip on Saturday mornings.
Sometime later in life, I can’t exactly put the date on it, we progressed to still going out on Saturdays for grocery shopping but that would come later in the day while she and I would go to second hand thrift stores first. We’d still look at dinner plates or forks or spoons and other kitchen items for the home…and sometime in the past my mom advanced into buying used clothing there too.
I remember having to try on used shirts and pants for the next school year a tiny bit embarrassed but also excited about having some newer clothes to wear.
When not shopping for clothes at the one or two thrift stores, I’d wander around looking at all the things to buy. A thrift store in the day used to have pricing selected based on the discretion of the cashier. Not exactly like today’s experiences with labels and prices affixed to merchandise.
My mom and I would jokingly tell one another that “Miss High Prices” was working that day and that we’d need to be careful what we selected because that expensive pricing lady would charge higher amounts for than other cashiers.
I’m sure I would buy some things in the store too with my fifty cents a week allowance. I remember being extremely delighted buying a portable radio in the shape of a robot who had red eyes that would light up when you turned on the radio. A little bit freaky by today’s standards but I was just amazed at radio and electronic gear.
Sadly on a visit to an air show at Pensacola Naval Air Station the radio was dropped when I exited the car and smashed into several pieces and then the robot was no more.
I remember carrying the broken radio home that day and then I never saw it again. I probably had my thoughts directed toward something else and my parent’s secretly threw the radio away in the garbage can. I guess my thoughts would easily change from week to week but that radio…a transistor radio was my favorite thrift store purchase of all time.
I did scour back to second hand stores looking for another radio like the one I broke but never found another one like it.
Which brings me back to the modern day...
Thirty years later my mom and I still plan to go out shopping at thrift stores on Saturdays, browsing shelves upon shelves of used, and gently used, and just plain junk at Goodwill and various other thrift stores.
At times now, I will pick a place out of my mom’s field of view and watch her gently pick up items she likes but has no need for and gently examine it like she’s seeing it for the first time. She keeps that same amount of excitement of seeing things for sale used that she did when I was a young boy. Sometimes the items will find the way into her cart and the cash register. She seems to carry a bit of proudness for finding something now that would be far more expensive if bought new.
The same experience goes for grocery shopping. She still carefully studies the labels and products before purchase and keeps meal planning in the back of her mind. The food selections have changed with her tastes and dad’s preferences, but food buying is still enjoyable for her.
I still remember those days well from the past and how much closer they brought my mom and me. My mom and I shared a common bond of mother and son that makes me smile. I’m hoping I live to be 82 and shopping in a second hand stores at that age and seeing the excitement of gently used stuff for sale. And in keeping the same gentle spirit of my mom having the ability to never turn old and being unable to see the value of living life for the moment even if there’s a lot of stuff I never need to buy there.