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Early 20th Century Shopping

A story by David T. Daniels

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As a farm youth in the late 1920’s and early 30’s, I remember that my parents did very little grocery buying because our farm supplied most food needs. Dad grew corn, wheat, sugarcane, sweet and white potatoes and had a very large vegetable garden. I would frequently crawl into the corn crib and shuck a couple of bushels of corn ears, and then go with Dad to a corn mill driven by a very large waterwheel. An electric motor drove a machine which removed the kernels from the cobs. Then the kernels would flood between two huge grinding stones. These stones could be set for fine grind (for corn meal) or rough grind (for grits). Dad did have bees for honey and he did make molasses from sugarcane. In this little town of approximately 1000 people there was one small grocery store on Main Street and 3 gas stations which sold a few grocery items were scattered around. Gas from the one tank (what is this octane bit??) sold for $0.12 to $0.15 per gallon. One of those gas stations was nearby, so Mother would frequently send me to buy a few items such as a loaf of white bread, $0.07, and a can of salmon, $0.10, or sardines, $0.03. An item which was bought in large quantities was pork n’beans, which was eaten for lunch while working all day in the field. Novel items in this store were a large jar of pickled pig’s feet and a wheel of some type of cheese. Every month a van type truck arrived to offer coffee, tea, salt, pepper and spices. With the opening of a mini supermarket in town around 1935 this truck ceased coming. Another truck which visited us was the Raleigh Man. Raleigh was an all-purpose salve in every home. This truck provided other items such as iodine, mercurochrome, aspirin, caster oil, Vicks, etc. A drug store opened in 1936-37, thus the Raleigh Man disappeared.

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 corn meal,farm,grits,honey,pork n’beans,Raleigh Man
  Landrum, South Carolina

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