Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slowly Getting Back to Normal

It wasn’t that long ago I started to write about how things used to be back in the good old days. I’m talking about before the likes of Walmart and the corporate stranglehold on our lives. There was a time of a different existence. 
I was reminded of this time the other day when the doorbell rang and someone from the local coffee shop, The Dish and the Spoon Cafe here in River Falls, brought us a basket of food. 
Back in the day, mom did the shopping. She’d go to the butcher for meat, the bakery for bread and the market for fruits and vegetables. There was also the shoe store, the dress shop, the men’s clothing store, the florist and the gas station, not to mention a store for pretty much about any item you might need in a household. 
There were larger grocery stores that only had hours from eight in the morning until nine at night and closed at six PM on Saturday. Sunday? Forget about it!
We had a small neighborhood store on the corner called Arlene’s. I’d be sent up there to get a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs or a ½ gallon of milk. Maybe a pack of smokes back when my folks were smokers.
Bob’s Texaco, next door to Arlene’s, pumped gas and had a couple of repair bays. Bob always had time for us neighborhood kids. We could go on his desk and help ourselves to a cookie or two from a package he had opened up or grab a banana.
We roamed the alleys for empty glass pop bottles and redeemed them for 2 cents a piece back at Arlene’s. A couple of coke bottles found on the ground would fetch some candy from the bins located along the counter at the front of the store.
If something went wrong with someone from the neighborhood, it was people like Arlene that would take care of things so folks wouldn’t have to worry. When my Grandpa was sick and close to meeting his maker, Arlene would allow us kids to get the milk and bread and the folks could pay later, and when Grandpa passed away, she sent flowers and gave out hugs.
When life all changed from this model of neighborhoods and close relationships with the people that provided us with goods and services, it was the death of a greeting card of condolence from people like Arlene who ran the places we traded with. No one had ever gotten a card or flowers from a big box store.
When Jody from the Dish stopped by the other day with a freshly baked quiche, pasta, lettuce and fruit salads and scones, the faith I had from a bygone era was shown to me.
While I’ve been dealing with these heart matters, it has put pressure on the entire family. Visits to the emergency room and the doctor’s office. Extra jockeying of the children here and there for day care, no time to get to the grocery and general helter skelter made it hard to plan a meal let alone gather what was needed and prepare it.
The gift of prepared food from our neighbors at the coffee shop lifted a burden from our lives and provided us with sustenance. This is the spirit of giving from the heart. 
Our faith in humanity is renewed, or at least we were reminded of it, and promise to pay it forward when we see a friend or neighbor in need was made.
This morning was my first visit back to The Dish and the Spoon Cafe since the first of November. The regular baristas were there and welcomed me with hugs. Then Emily wandered by and stopped to tell me that she missed  me and was so glad that I was back. Abbie came in and stopped for a hug. I tell you, they may have greeters in Walmart, but they’re no match for friends that remind you that if there is anything I need that I shouldn’t hesitate to call.
I thank Abbie and her mother, Emily, the owners of The Dish and the Spoon Cafe, and the entire staff. I was sure to let them know how appreciated they are in our community.
Thanks so much you guys. You are truly neighborhood friends.


Jeannie said...

Awesome people!

I don't think we ever had neighbors of that calibre. We're lucky if our neighbors wave to us.

Kim Mailhot said...

Simple neighborly love, yet so rare these days. So glad it staged a comeback in your neck of the woods, Man.
Enjoy the loving grub !
Peace, light and love, My Friend !

rebecca said...

oh i love the welcome, opening door and love flooding in!
thank you for this post and a peek into your healing life!!!


Cheryl said...

I am reminded so well of my early childhood, just as you wrote it. A community of friends is so important to have and to keep.

Rosie said...

How wonderful for you Joe! That's what I miss about living in Spain - we had that same relationship with the villagers there. They even told people off when they referred to us Brits as "outsiders" one day - we were "Foreigners", yes, but not outsiders! After all, we lived in the village!!
Glad you are in better spirits. =)

Mel said...

I live in smalltown USA where neighbors know their neighbors. It's a good thing. We get opportunities to be helpful and most folks take that and run.
The girl gets that value from having lived it, but tells me that's notsomuch how the world operates now a days. I'm glad I was a part in passing that on to her.

I'll note there's one hardware store opened on Sunday here......no decent grocery store would dare be opened here. LOL No Texaco, but we did have a green dinosaur here until the owner passed away and it was sold. I miss that little fella. And yep--pop bottles for candy at the candy counter. Oh my gosh...I used to love buttons and blackjacks. (Shhhhh....I know that tells a lot about my age!)

Up and about! YEAH!!!!! And yeah for the folks who took care of you and yours. Darn straight they had that hug comin'! :-) Too cool....

Anonymous said...

Soooo wonderful to read a story like this!!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Marilyn & Jeff said...

You wrote of my early childhood too with your words.

It's so very good to hear of kindness and thoughtfulness to others still happens. Several years ago we had a year of hard times when our daughter underwent chemotherapy and the amputation of her leg. It is times like this that small acts of kindness are so special.

I wish you great peace and much healing,

susan said...

There really are a lot of wonderful people in the world and I'm very glad you've found a few more to tell us about.

Far too many are stuck working for corporate entities and aren't allowed to show their humanity for fear of losing their jobs.

I'm so very glad to know you're feeling a little better.

susan said...

ps: Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Mel said...

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and yours, sir.


Fran said...

Nice the mom & pop place stepped up for you in this transitional time of need.
I know you would love the opportunity to get well & pay it fwd down the road.
And NO big box joints don't do that.

Hope you had nice family time together.