When I was a kid we used to buy our groceries at Curtis & Ward, the mom & pop store in the nearby village of Lysander. I remember Mom ordering chicken, pork roast and other meats from the butcher counter in the back. There was a big spool of string hanging from the ceiling that Mr. Ward (or was it Mr. Curtis) would use for tying the packages. The string went from the spool through an i-bolt on the ceiling and hung down for easy access.
After Mom finished shopping we’d go to the front of the store where Mr. Curtis – or more often his wife, Ruth – would add up all our purchases and enter the amount into the ledger under our name. Once in awhile Mom would have some money to pay on account – she’d pay what she could, the rest went into the ledger, and that was the way it worked. The groceries would get packed into cardboard boxes and tied with string from yet another ceiling-suspended spool.
If my mother was really feeling flush, we kids might get a dime to spend behind the counter where all the candy was kept. A dime might not seem like much but in the late ’50s you could get tootsie rolls, fireballs, gum, and other candies for a penny each, and if we were really careful we’d have a nickel left to buy a Snickers or Three Musketeers (which was much bigger than what costs $.69 or more nowadays). Ruth was always happy to let us crowd behind the counter while we carefully analyzed and agonized about how best to spend our fortune. We loved Ruth, proprietor of all things sweet and chocolaty. We loved going to Curtis & Ward. Heck, we just loved going to town on a Saturday afternoon!