By Frances Lowery Garner
Trips to town (the nearest being Greenville) were only for necessities.
When the four, sugar, and coffee (the main staples that were not supplied by the farm, got low, Daddy usually would find a way to go into town (which today is a city).
Our family never owned a car or a truck, so we were dependent upon a neighbor who owned one after the mule and wagon days were gone.
Following the war, however, my brothers all owned a vehicle and one or two of them always lived close enough to the family to accommodate their transportation needs.
We never felt we were poor because with the exception of not owning a vehicle, we were in as good a shape as our neighbors and better than some.
A trip to town meant going to Beeland’s Wholesale house located on the main street of Greenville, just a block below the courthouse.
Although the wholesale house had a salesman to go out to the country stores and take orders, anyone could also go in the wholesale house and purchase whatever they needed at a wholesale price.
A lot of people did not live near a store in those days and you could also eliminate the middle man if you could come to the wholesale house and trade with cash.
Many of the country stores had to rely on credit until the crops would come in.
The wholesale house was not a place for browsing but resembled a drive-in-grocery store.
You would pull up beside the open door on the side street and a friendly face would always greet you and say, “What can I do for you today, Mr. Ledbetter?”
Everybody knew each other by name and also familiar with what products were available.
The flour would come in 50 pound sacks and would be used later, after being bleached, at the sewing machine as well as the chicken fee sacks.
The flour was emptied into a tall lard can beside the meal when Daddy got home.
My mother was an excellent seamstress and would save up the sacks until she had enough to match and we would get a pretty new dress.
The feed store would also save their colorful sack and could be purchased for as little as 25 cents each.
When Momma got to come to town, she would select the best colors for us and my sister and I would have some of the prettiest clothes of anyone to wear to school or to church.
After a good neighborly chat to catch up on the most recent news, the order would be filled and then my dad would usually surprise us with something extra.
He would ask what kind of candy they had today and most of the time he would bring home a box of Baby Ruth or Almond Joy, sometimes the cocoanut bars had the three colored stripes.
These would be put into the chiffarobe and eaten sparingly with not a bite wasted.
Sam’s and Costco have replaced these places of trade today and needless to say, they are definitely different.
In the earlier years, you did not have to purchase a membership card nor go find your list of items nor carry it to your vehicle.
Not too many of the employees working in these places today have the disposition of Mr. Stabler or Mr. Lowe, in later years.
It is now a job that does not require you to be nice to strangers.
We may have gained a lot of conveniences but lost a lot of the good neighborly policies.
Adjacent to the wholesale house was Beeland’s Merchandise where you could find the best quality clothes and shoes available.
The Beeland men (brothers) were distinguished looking and welcome you into the carpeted store in the most gentleman way possible and were very helpful in helping you find what you wanted.
Dad would get his overalls here and they would last through a loft crops as well as his work shoes and dress shoes.
They handled name brand shoes like Jarman and Florshein.
Dad only owned on pair of dress shoes and he would wear the same pair for years.
The next stop would be the A&P store on downtown Commerce for the A&P brand coffee.
You could smell the aroma of the fresh ground coffee beans as you entered the front door.
A customer would pick out the size bag they wanted and that would be the three or five pound bag if you lived out like we did.
They would inquire how you wanted it ground and empty the beans while you waited into the grinder and then put the fresh smelling coffee back into the bag and fasten it on top with a piece of thin metal covered over as part of the red and black bag.
My sister and I would save these for hair rollers as we had no store bought ones.
They would have about the same effect on your hair that crinkling style is today but without hair spray it was only good for one day or less.
Other items on the shopping list might include backing soda and baking powder as all Mama cooked with was plain fresh ground meal and plain Martha White flour for good lard biscuits.
If the butcher in the meat market had bones to dispose of, he would give them to Daddy for the dogs to gnaw.
Due to lack of refrigeration, we could not by meat in town but depended on home grown or a neighbor might butcher a cow and peddle it on his pickup truck.
A good piece of cheese would keep without refrigeration and even be better when put into a hot biscuit. (to be cont.)