Rolling Store Man

NOTE:    Due to the depression and then W.W.II, cars were rare amongst the country folk where I grew up.  Going to the store required arranging transport in advance, or walking, or riding your plow horse.

So enterprising merchants got themselves old vans or buses, installed shelves, ice chests, stocked them with merchandise and voila’ – the Rolling Store was created.

Day to day life in the woods seldom varied.  If we had visitors, it was usually some one needing Daddy’s help either to take them to the hospital in Clanton for emergencies such as broken bones, getting gored by a bull and once a neighbor hemorrhaging with TB, or to borrow the money to pay for those medical bills.  Daddy gave it to them even knowing he’d probably never get it back.

So when Bernerd and I saw a bus-like vehicle creak down our long drive and pull-up under our massive oak tree – well, that was exciting, cause Rolling Store Man had arrived.

Rolling Stores didn’t adhere to a schedule, so Mama couldn’t plan a head and have money on hand, but that wasn’t a problem.  What with her being known as The Praying Woman, her produce was trusted and sought after.  Rolling Store Man, gladly traded for Mama’s chickens, eggs, butter and canned blackberries and huckleberries and their jams.

When he pulled up and parked, first he and Mama would determine what kind of chickens his customers wanted, whether pullets, baking hens, a yard rooster, or fryers and send Bernerd and me to round them up.  She took care of the more delicate and breakable merchandise.

Rolling Store Man weighed the chickens, stuffed them in cages he kept in the back of the bus, then he and Mama got down to the serious business of haggling till the value of everything was struck at that time Mama would buy.

She let me stand inside the Rolling Store beside her, where I could feast my eyes on all those fascinating items Rolling Store Man had on his shelves: Phials of first aid supplies – merthiolate, mercurochrome – rolls of adhesive tape and gauze, menthol gum for making lineament, boric acid for making sore eye solution and beautiful blue stone crystals used to cure ground itch on horses hooves.

There were tins marked with scull and crossbones, which  I longed to open just to see what poisons looked like, what color they’d be, and if they would explode if I mixed them together.  I’d ask questions about explosive probabilities and Bernerd, being four years older than me, would try to drag me out of the store, but I’d hold on the door frame thwarting his efforts.

There were the spools of thread and packets of needles to tempt my hands, but Mama was strict.  I was never allowed to touch anything less Rolling Store Man think I might steal.

That was OK, for I knew Mama would buy us some candy, which was featured prominently on the shelves by the entrance – boxes of the luscious tasting, to Bernerd and me, rarity.  I loved the penny candy.  It sat in those boxes just sparkling at me.  All those blues, yellows, reds and greens looked like gemstones.

When Mama completed her purchases, and Rolling Store Man trundled back down the drive, she’d hand us each a candy bar and a nickel’s worth of penny candy.

Bernerd and I would sit on the big roots under the Oak to eat our candy bar, lick our penny suckers, knowing that we were also in for a treat at supper – hoop cheese and bologna, sliced from a stalk, served on lite bread.

Wow!  Life was goo-ood that day.

May 29, 2010 · Carolyn · 3 Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: country life

3 Responses

  1. Sue - May 30, 2010

    Mama was known as the Praying Woman?
    P. S. I remember penny candy too!

  2. Melanie - May 31, 2010

    Oh, do I enjoy your stories. I can picture you taking it all in when the Rolling Store Man came to your house. It’s the little things in life we should treasure, and you certainly did. More children should be like that today.

  3. Kat - June 2, 2010

    Very sweet. It’s very nice to reminisce about simpler times. I wonder if you knew how lucky you were. Love, Kat

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