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Requiem for Mom & Pop Stores

by Eva Pasco

Mom & Pop Stores

A devastating economic tsunami in the here and now has wreaked havoc and devastation by swallowing institutions previously believed to have been impervious to the currents churning in a fiscal underbelly. This got me thinking about those mom and pop stores dotting my childhood landscape of the Sixties. Displaced by Big Brother retailers, most of these slices of American pie have been devoured with nary a crumb to be found.

Before my family moved into our custom-built home in Lincoln, we lived in a tenement for a few months. This temporary lodging happened to be practically right next door to Walker's Market on the corner of Douglas and Mineral Spring Avenue. Hard to believe this barn red clapboard structure had aisles wide enough to stroll a shopping cart. Business thrived during a time when most moms stayed at home as dad needed the single family car to drive to work. My business at Walker's usually involved a leg run for boiled ham and a fresh crusty loaf of Caranci’s Italian bread for sandwiches at lunchtime. That summer I couldn't get enough of Hood’s orange creamsicles I'd fish out of a long freezer squatting in the back of the store. I must have made two or three runs a day.

The town of Lincoln was rurally pastoral during my formative years. For sure the early Sixties in small town America was idyllic if a school bus driver occasionally allowed us to storm Grandfather's. No surprise, an elderly gent who wore “Mister Rogers” cardigans managed this candy store the size of an outhouse on Great Road. We'd fawn over an assortment of tempting penny candy neatly arrayed inside boxes under a glass counter. I just had to get some of those fireballs.

The bus route became a little more encompassing in junior high. Si, our "cool" driver would occasionally indulge our badgering and pull into the lot by the feed store on Jenckes Hill Road. To the left of the entrance, there was a place to buy candy. So many confections to choose, so little time...jellybeans, licorice, gumdrops, lollipops, sourballs, jawbreakers... I couldn't resist those sugar-drenched watermelon slices.

All but gone are the mom and pop stores whose congenial owners prattled as they purveyed candy, groceries, hardware, clothing, or dry goods. Nowadays conglomerates, chains, and convenience behemoths pedal wares with robotic efficiency. There's nothing very heartwarming about a clerk repeating to a succession of customers as they leave the checkout lane a one-sentence -fits-all, “Have a nice day."

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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