Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shopping Saturday - Memories of 1920s Grocery Shopping


In my mother’s oral history, she shared her experiences traveling the ten miles into Ithaca once a week for their groceries. I would like to share her memories here:

“We shopped in Ithaca. I believe that was Atwaters store – my first memory. You would take your list and go to the counter and a person would wait on you. You would read off – ‘I want five pounds of sugar.’ He would go to the shelf and get five pounds of sugar and put it on the counter; put the price of the sugar on a brown paper bag, which he later used to put many of your groceries in, and then your next item, he would go and get that and bring it back and do the same thing.  When he got all of these 20-30 items, he just added them, he just added them up – no calculators – he just did it right there in front of you, and there were precious few mistakes.  That Atwaters store later became an A&P store. That was on State Street along where Holley’s is today. We got there by car; we always had a car.

Another thing I remember was when we grocery shopped, it was once a week on a Saturday; that was the only night the stores were open. We would buy all of our groceries that we needed for the week. Of course, on the farm we had chickens, we had eggs, and all that sort of thing. The one thing I remember most vividly was the first of the week you would have fresh meat, fresh hamburger, or whatever, but then towards the end of the week these things would not keep all that long, so at the end of the week you would have codfish gravy over mashed potatoes – delicious. Macaroni and cheese, things that could be preserved without refrigeration.”

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