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My Blog

Local Stores

Good morning to everyone...a bit hot yesterday here in the Chicago land area.  Today will be a bit cooler.  It boggles my mind on how drastic the weather has been here....but I am not complaining....especially when I see the devastation in OK. 
I sat here this morning thinking about the local stores that were around when I was growing up.  Growing up in Chicago, there were local stores every where one looked.  There were stores that were in the front of houses. back then.  I remember that on Laramie there was a small grocery/meat market that my Grandmother would send me to on a daily basis to shop for her.  I would go across the alley, cut through the neighbors yard, cross Laramie Ave. which was a main street and go to the store which was located just about the center of the street.  I thought about that....cutting through a neighbor's yard??  I can't imagine that anyone would even think of doing something like that today without expecting to have the police perhaps called on them.  It was mostly lunch meats and sundries.  I remember the Big 5 gallon glass container filled with pickles that you could buy.  At the counter was a platter with Chubs on them...that is smoked fish for those who might no know what a chub is.  Grandma would sent me over on a daily basis so that we would always have everything fresh. One of the common things I would go for was lunchmeat...Grandma' usual was a pound of football.  Yes, now I know you are probably wondering .....football??  Well, it was a minced meat of some sort...but that is what Grandma called it and the woman who ran the store knew it by that name., so later in life when I talked abut a good football sandwich, there were plenty of strange looks, let me tell you!  In the summer, I would go there for chocolate popsicles....oh they were so delicious.  The creamsicles and the pushups where my also my favorites.  Today, you can still find creamsicles, but they don't taste anything like the ones that I used to buy at Fran's.  That was the name of the store...Fran's...now I remember. 
To buy meat, I would go to the next street over called Lockwood and 2 doors down from the corner was again a store in the front of the house that was the butcher shop.  Grandma would send me there to buy meat.  The butcher sometimes would go into the wooden freezer door to bring out something that wasn't in the case and cut it up right there in front of you, wrap it up in that white butcher paper with the glossy wax side in, and off I would go back home.  I made that trip every other day.  There was no such thing as buying a weeks worth of meat back then. 
There was another store on Lorel Ave that had candy and ice cream.  Again a store in the front of a house.  When I was in little and in Kindergarten and 1st grade.  My Grandma would walk to school to pick me up and sometimes on our way home, we would stop in that store and I would get treated to an ice cream store.  This was always ice cream in a cone.   
 I remember one time, when I was in Kindergarten, I got into trouble and had to stand out in the hall.  It was really not my fault at all, but I got into trouble.  The girl in front of me had her dress with crenaline skirt on my desk...she thought she was being cute....and I was trying to tell her to take it off...and of course I got into trouble.  Sister Bonaventure....that was the name of the nun who taught me in kindergarten punished me.  On the way home Grandma asked if I had been a good girl that day...then she would treat me to an ice cream on the way home.....I cannot tell a lie....I lied back then because I really wanted that ice cream cone.  But it was like choking down a horse....by the time we got home, I was sobbing like a baby for ling to Grandma.  I confessed to her what had happened in school that day.  I thought Grandma would maybe give me the 5 piggies....that was the punishment stick.  It was a cut off of an old broom about 16 inches long and had 5 belt strap end on it.  I never, ever had it used on me ,but just the thought of it shook my liver!!  Grandma just said that the next time, I needed to just tell her the truth.  She said the truth never hurt anyone.  Lesson learned for the day.  Although now that those years have gone and I am older, I realize sometimes the truth does hurt...but I is always still the best thing to say and to hear. 
Now, when it came to clothing or household products.  We would walk about 6-8 blocks or so to the Department store on Grand Ave. called Cohen's.  It was a big store with stairs that went down to the basement as well.  We always bought my uniform blouses there.  They had just about everything in that store.  And the best thing was that they gave S& H Green stamps there with your purchase.  That made Grandma pretty happy!  For those of you who do not know what S & H stamps are, back in the day, stores, gas stations and other places would give out these green stamps that you would fill into a book.  Sort of like the games that McDonald play and you try to win something with their stamps...the difference was that with McDonald  you usually don't end up with anything.  S & H Green stamps had a catalogue.  It had all types of things in the catalog and it had the number of books needed to redeem .them in for he product.  There were toys, pots and pans, sewing machines.  All sorts of things.  I would sit and lick those stamps and put them in the book .  Grandma would always share the books with me and we would both be able to get something when we had enough books filled.  I still have a book and some stamps left form those days.  I am no sure when it stopped, but I remember being grown up and married and sill collected those stamps.  I remember that the redemption house was off the Eisenhower expressway somewhere around Hillside  I believe. 
My Grandmother used to bake for Mrs. Cohen's bridge parties.  My grandmother was known as the best baker and bread maker in the area.  I can surely attest to that, but I would imagine that I am prejudiced.  A funny story was...growing up, my grandmother never taught me that there were different nationalities or religions....people were just people and I only just new them by their names.   Many, many years later, I had a dear friend named Margie who was Jewish.  When we would sit around and talk, she admitted to e that she was surprised that I had no prejudices towards her.  I was amazed at that statement.  I couldn't imagine why she would have thought such a thing and then she explained how people reacted to her on several occasions.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  We talked about how I was raised and that it finally dawned on my some 45 years later that Cohen's Department store and Mrs. Cohen must have been Jewish. Didn't make any more difference to me now than it did then....GOOD JOB  GRANDMA!!
Well, today, there are no longer stores in the front of houses, stores that give away Green stamps, no longer do you cut through a yard, but memories...those are still there to cherish and keep.  And unlike the S & H green stamps, I wouldn't trade them in for anything! 

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