Mr. Z and I always watch old-time television shows like "The Andy Griffith Show." The show, that introduced Ron Howard to the world, was set in a fictitious town in North Carolina called Mayberry. It was a little country town that had one gas station, a drug store, one department store, a sheriff’s station, and a café that featured a blue plate special. Life was good in Mayberry. Watching these old-time shows, I am often reminded of the sweet things that folks like my parents and grandparents had that made their lives unique and wonderful. I consider myself lucky to have lived during at least some of the time in an era that was just like Mayberry. Watching an episode of Andy Griffith and feeling nostalgic, I decided to do a blog on the things that time has let slip out of our lives forever.
The Milk Man Cometh
How many of you remember the Milk Man? He would arrive in his truck, back into our driveway, and rummage through the back of his refrigerated truck for my Mom’s milk and butter order for the week. The milk was farm fresh and came in glass milk bottles with a metal cap. The milk was ice cold when it arrived. The Milk Man, dressed in a white suit, would place the milk bottles in our metal Milk Box that sat on our front porch. I remember on hot summer days; my mom would race out to get her milk and butter products, so they would not spoil in the sun. On winter days, she made sure to bring them in before they froze. Occasionally, my mom would order me a bottle of Grape Drink that would arrive with the milk delivery. What a glorious day when I got my prized Grape Drink. It was sweet and delicious and so refreshing on a hot summer day. Till this day, I don’t think I’ve tasted milk as fresh and tasty as it was when it was served up weekly by the local Milk Man.
The Sunday Blues
I remember Sundays fondly when I was just a girl. The end of the week. The day we did practically nothing and enjoyed every minute of it. Our family went to church in the morning, then it was home to prepare the weekly Sunday dinner of roast beef, potatoes, carrots, gravy, and rolls. Sundays were a day of rest. A day that the whole family kicked back, well except for Mom slaving in the kitchen, and enjoyed each other’s company over a delicious homemade meal. Considered the Sabbath day for Christians and reserved as a day of rest, people slowed down, took a breath, and just stayed home with their families. You would never have dreamt of going shopping back in the 1950s, 60’s, or early 70’s. Of course, back in the day, Sunday Blue Laws were in place. For those youngsters out there, the Blue Laws were enacted in 1933 to keep folks from buying alcohol on Sunday’s. The law also prohibited sporting events or shopping on Sunday. As I watch The Andy Griffith Show, I see Aunt Bea, Opie, Andy, and Barnie sitting on their front porch[C1] in rocking and rattan chairs, suffering through the North Carolina heat, and just enjoying each other’s company on a laid-back Sunday afternoon. Today, people run to the church, to the grocery store, to the gym, to the mall, and back home again. Rarely do they eat a dinner together. Rarely do they take a breath. Rarely do they realize that just a few decades ago, life on any given Sunday was so different. It was a family day set aside to do…well…nothing.
Soda Fountain & Penny Candy Heaven
Sheriff Andy Taylor and his redheaded little boy Opie were always going to the Mayberry drug store to enjoy a soda. This happens in almost every Andy Griffith Show episode. One of my favorite things to do as a child was to go with my Dad to a small drug store that was just down the street from my Grandma Sadie’s house. On the walk there, I was giddy with excitement for the cherry or chocolate fountain Coke and penny candy that I would soon be enjoying. The store had a soda fountain counter that ran along the side wall of the store. People were able to sit at the counter on swivel bar stools and enjoy a soda, sundae, or other treat while waiting for their prescriptions to be filled. The soda fountain itself produced a great soft drink that was flavored with chocolate syrup or maraschino cherry juice. The taste of these drinks was amazing. No bottled soda pop concoction of today can match the taste of these delicious drinks that were served up cold in a tall soda glass.
Before leaving the store, I got to stop and pick out my favorite penny candy. Yes, it was only .01 cent a piece. An array of Gummy fish, caramel creams, Bazooka bubble gum, Laffey Taffy, Smarties, Bit O Honey, Sugar Daddies, wax lips, candy cigarettes, and other delicious sugary treats were stored in glass jars for the taking. You could help yourself to the cornucopia of treats. The druggist would place my selection in a small brown paper bag and seal it with a few staples. I remember how thrilled I was as I held my dad’s hand while walking back to my Grandma’s house with my sack of goodies! A joyous afternoon with my dad spent at the local drug store. Who knew life could be so grand!
“Mom & Pop” Stores
The corner store is a thing of the past. Let’s face it, the little guy can’t stand the competition and pricing afforded by the large retailers today. But back when I was just a tike, corner stores were a dime a dozen. They were always owned by a family and offered fresh meat, deli selections, canned goods, and fresh produce. The smells of farm fresh vegetables coupled with freshly cut meat gave these stores a distinct smell. The wooden floors would creek as each shopper strolled with their handheld baskets looking to buy fresh products for dinner that evening. Mom and pop stores, as they were called, were manned by our friends and neighbors. They were hard working families that gave good service and stood by their products. When I visit the mountain towns in Pennsylvania, I often get a chance to visit the occasional mom and pop store. It takes me back to when going to the market was a treat and not a chore.
I often say that I was born in the wrong generation. I long for the simple days of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. When you could enjoy a tasty drink at a drug store, get a sugar high on just .25 cents of candy, or enjoy a Sunday meal without having to run out to the local mall. Times have changed and, in some ways, they have changed for the better. But I still long for those “Mayberry” days when life was simple and pure. 💋