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.