The corner store
Most communities had at least one corner store. When I grew up there were three corner stores along the way as I walked to school. The one we frequented most was owned by the Denglers. He had groceries as well as some paper products.
The thing that I remember most about this little store is the little loaves of bread that he often had to give away to children. I think maybe Sunbeam or Wonder Bread was the maker of these little loaves. They were child-sized. I do not think the slices were cut either. I remember taking my little loaf of bread home and cutting it to make a tiny sandwich.
Sometimes my sandwich was just butter and sugar. If there happened to be jelly around the house, I could fix a jelly sandwich. We went to Denglers for anything that we needed between the grocery store trips. Often, I made a trip to the store on my bicycle for my neighbor. I remember on one trip I had eggs in my basket. As I wheeled the bicycle off the curb I wondered if some of the eggs might have cracked. When I got them to the neighbor all were intact, thank goodness.
I think Denglers store closed earlier in the day than the store run by the Crino family. Nick was in my class in school so I knew him. Sometimes he was around when I went there. We went there for popsicles and fudgsicles.
Incidentally, they were both made by the local ice cream plant. Sometimes we would stop there on our way back from the playground. We would also go there to get snacks to take when we went to the orchard to pick strawberries. Once I picked out a treat, I could hardly wait for it to be time to eat.
Then, there was Frodelius’s market. Most of the time I went there for school supplies. They were members of our church so we liked to patronize them.
There was also an ice cream parlor on the corner next to Denglers market. We went there a lot. Mr. and Mrs. Wicks owned that. He was such a nice man.
He was always patient and happy. His wife on the other hand was often gruff. Maybe she was sick and we did not know about it. I remember getting sundaes and milkshakes there. Sometimes we just got a cone. During the summer the local ice cream factory made a delicious lemon ice cream. They always had some of that.
Wicks store also had penny candy. There was a big case of it just inside the door. If I had some change, I picked out some treats. It really did cost just a penny. I liked something called peach pits. I could get a little bag of them with just a couple pennies. I also liked the root beer barrels. Such good memories. I always hoped Mr. Wicks would help me with my purchase because he was nicer.
Every community had a corner store. When I married and moved over here, I found that to be true here as well. Akeley had Bill Hales. He was so nice. He had pretzel sticks for the children each time I went in there. The kids loved those pretzels. Sometimes I needed an item when I was baking so I just went down there. He also helped out our church when we had our pancake supper. We ordered all of the sausage from him. He also got us the pancake fixings. He stayed open later that evening in case we ran short of something.
My mother-in-law told me that she ordered groceries from Bill Hale. He ran a tab for them. She placed the order and they picked it up on the back porch after the chores were done. My neighbor, Ida Grace, was a little lady. She had Bill reach things for her so she traded there all of the time.
Everyone knew Bill Hale. It was a sad occasion when he finally sold the store.
It operated for several more years but finally closed its doors.
In Russell there was Peck’s store. Someone else owned it before the Pecks but that was before my time. I think it was called the Yellow and Black store. My mother ordered her meat from there. Bill would package it up and then I stopped for it. She was always satisfied with her purchase. If she needed anything else she always gave him that order too.
The corner store was the hub of the community. Everyone traded there at some point. It seemed like the owners knew everyone. I miss the corner stores with the friendly people behind the counters. I am afraid they are gone forever!
Ann R. Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.