Good morning. As I sit here today, once again I ponder over what topic I should use for the day. If you ever tried blogging..let me tell you, .after a certain amount of time, it entails digging a little deeper for a subject.
Today I choose grocery stores because when I thought back a bit, I found a connective thread. You see, way back in the early 1900's. my great grandparents owned a grocery store...it was just a mom and pop type store in Chicago, around North Ave and Clark St. Now I can't really say that I know a whole lot about the store, and that alone makes me want to do some investigative work. What I do know is that my Great Grandfather died of stomach cancer at the young age of 42, which made my Grandfather Joe have to leave school to come home to help his mother in the store.
Now, when I was young, I had this grocery store that was made of a corrugated cardboard that had 3 sides to it. It had heavy cardboard shelves on the inside. A shelf where the cut out was, which would have been where your customers would come to check out their groceries. It was in the Basement at the bottom of the stairs. My Grandma would save all kinds of empty boxes from Oatmeal, Farina, Maypo, there were empty Betty Crocker Cake boxes of various flavors, empty coffee cans, evaporated milk cans (back then, they used to use it for the milk in their coffee), egg cartons and much more for me to set up the grocery store with. Funny how we were recycling with out ever knowing it! I had grocery bags and the best thing was I had a small cash register with money in it. It sat on the counter part where I would check out people. Now, when I say check out people...they were the imaginary people that would come to shop...I, on occasion, had Grandpa come down and play with me...I think he came down mostly in the beginning so that I would learn to add up the groceries and learn to make change for my customers. Bless my Grandpa Joe. He was always teaching me, even when I didn't realize it. Of course, if your came from my era...the register didn't total up the sales for you, there was nothing digital back then. They just plunked out the number as you pushed down the keys. You had to keep a pencil and paper next to you to make a tally of the sales, just like when you went to the neighborhood grocery store. Plus, the register didn't tell you how much change to give either. You had to figure out the math yourself to be able to give the proper change. Grandpa played many of those types of games with me. Hmmmm, I later in life had math as one of my majors....any surprise? As I think back on those days....they were a huge part of my life.
As my children grew up, things were more modern. You could actually buy the miniature groceries and a shopping cart for them to do the shopping. I remember when my daughters were young, they had the grocery and kitchen set in my kitchen along one of the walls. This used to be one of their favorites to play with. I of course was their customer or the recipient of their prepared foods. I remember taking a brown grocery bag and rolling up the edge for my eldest daughter as a chef hat. Even though we could buy things, I was still saving boxes and cans for them to use. The apple didn't fall far from the tree...did it?
Then as years went by, Granddaughters came into existence and there was even more for them that could be bought in the stores to play with . But I am still an advocate for teaching them to actually make something or to encourage them to use their imagination. They are too far away from me now, (they live in South Carolina), that I cannot be there to foster them, but I sure can add things to their life to encourage using their imagination. I know that last year, I bought my youngest granddaughter a kitchen set for Christmas. It came with all sorts of pots and pans and food, the darn things even talked! But the one thing I sent there was a Pizza making kit, made all from felt. She could actually put together the pizza with sausage and onions, mushrooms, green peppers and cheese. I also sent her tea bags and cookies made from felt. so that she could have and serve tea and dessert. I have the video of her playing with them. It gave me such pleasure to see her making the pizza while she is answering the pretend phone and cooking at the same time. this year. more felt food will be added to her collection.
I have been to Kohl's Children's Museum with my granddaughters through the years. I must say, boy have things come a long way! They actually have a miniature Jewel Grocery set up where the children could go and play grocery store. They have a fruit department, bakeries, meat departments, scales, and the list goes on and on. Imagine that in todays world, we are actually paying to have the children use their imaginations and play grocery store, when they could be doing it right at home. It is now just an occasional fun thing to do! Not a lesson of sorts, not something that can easily be done with recycling on our own. Is it that todays generation is actually too busy to instill these inherent traits in their children? I worry about where the world is going. I worry when I go into a store and the computerized register has an error and the employee can't make the proper change on their own. I worry, that tomorrow's artisan's will have vanished and become extinct. What IS becoming extinct, is the imagination. The value of simple times and pleasures. The thought process of "how to make learning fun".
All I can say is that I was so blessed with my childhood and the people that were in it! I am still imagining and creating today, thanks to them. I became a storyteller so that I can hopefully encourage future generations, as well as to remind the older ones to be appreciative of what we had. It is my belief that if we don't share these moments, the newest generation will never have a yard stick to measure anything with. Sometimes, a simple story just might encourage them to want to do the same.
Grocery stores....add it to your grocery list. a learning experience that may just last a lifetime!