Grocery stores certainly have changed

When I was a very young boy, my cousins lived on First Street East and the two big grocery stores were located just the other side of the their backyard.
The delivery trucks would back down the alley and unload their cartons, produce, and fresh meat.
When they finished unloading, we would run behind the trucks grabbing on to the bumper and skidding in our high top runners on the gravel alley. In winter, we would be pulled along the snow.
Of course, in winter few trucks made delivery on Saturday. I can remember a summer day that I lost both knees out of a pair of jeans.
Shop-Easy and Safeway eventually outgrew their stores and moved to opposite corners at Victoria and Scott. Safeway then outgrew its Scott and Victoria location and moved to its present site—and then grew some more before going into this complete interior remodelling.
It has been a longtime member of the community
Walking into the totally remodelled Safeway store, memories of those two old stores came flooding back as I walked on the new flooring. It felt just like the old wood floors in those two stores.
And the new lighting—more subdued—brought back a flood of memories.
That is where the similarities end. The old stores never had the selection of this store, and although many residents ordered hinds of beef, and took home 50 pound bags of flour, they couldn’t go and pick out a bouquet of flowers or get a sandwich made up.
Yesteryear’s selection of cold cuts pales to today’s. Grocery stores, with their bakeries and tantalizing smells, seem to offer so much more.
As the grocery stores have changed and grown, we now get to have many fruits and vegetables on our tables year-round. Forty years ago, the fruits and vegetables we ate were much more seasonal.
Strawberries, for instance, were available in the spring, pears in the fall, oranges and grapefruit at Christmas time. Apples might be available all year, but most were stored in late fall and delivered over the next few months.
I remember the cases of peaches that used to arrive in early August, preceded by cherries. And on their arrival, the stores were filled with canning supplies, glass jars, lids, rubber seals, etc.
And those cases of fresh fruit were canned and put on the basement shelves to eat over the winter months.
If you didn’t do a lot of canning, canned peaches and pears were available, but never quite the same.
Behind the meat counter at Christmas, the butcher would ladle into his mincemeat barrel and wrap up the mixture for Christmas pie. And if the butcher had a really nippy old cheddar, he might carve off a thin wedge to tempt you to buy as a treat.
From another barrel, the butcher might tease you with pickled herring or a fresh raw oyster.
It was part of the charm of those old stores and butchers. The grocery shopping was as much a social occasion as anything. The butcher and the checkout person seemed to know about everything happening in town.
And along the aisles, as today, you would stop and exchange news about families. That part hasn’t lessened in our hurry-up world.
At Christmas, even in the bustle, we always find those extra moments to share news with friends in the aisles of grocery stores.

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