We used to buy our groceries from Freddies Cash Store, straight across the road from our bottle store, seen in the picture. Freddies was owned and run by Grace Schimper (round as a beachball, thick glasses) and her sister Edna Bisset. Grace unmarried, Edna divorced with two special kids a bit older than us – Petra and Ray.
Joan and/or Vera Simpson delivered milk in big tin cans on the back of a grey Morris Minor pickup by ; they were unmarried, lived on their dairy farm, Joan slept on the open veranda year-round. Later in glass bottles with tinfoil tops – who delivered those?
Our meat we would buy from Paul Raath, then from Louis Schoeman, ex-dashing, polo-playing bachelor – ‘Thought he was the Prince Imperial,’ says Mary, my Ma! Now he was the father of five wonderful kids, the older ones our age, and good friends of ours. Dad says Louis once snorted to him, speaking of his lovely wife Cathy, ‘Hmph! All that woman wants is babies, babies!’ I think he was probably just bragging!
Food was also available at the big Ross general dealer store – a forerunner of the supermarket? – where friendly Charlie Ronalds was the grocer. Later Harrismith got Sonop, our first ‘supermarket.’ Sheila speaks fondly of enjoying milkshakes there; I don’t remember that at all, don’t think I ever even saw their sit-down section.
I thought of this old-time food shopping while reading an article on supermarkets in The Atlantic. How supermarkets have changed the way we shop for food. I thought this passage was very good:
At the very least, you have to marvel: How did we take something built to satisfy the simplest human need and make it so utterly baroque? The supermarket does not “curate.” It is a defiantly encyclopedic catalog of our needs and desires, each and every one of which it attempts to satisfy. With nothing but a can opener, you can get a “turkey dinner in gravy,” “chicken shrimp and crab stew,” “saucy seafood bake,” “chicken and turkey casserole,” “prime filets with salmon and beef,” “bisque with tuna and chicken,” “ocean whitefish dinner with garden greens in sauce,” or a “natural flaked skipjack tuna entrée in a delicate broth.” And that’s just in the cat-food aisle.
The bread came in brown or white, and if you wanted, you could get a half loaf.
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Kah-rect! And not sliced. You sliced it your own self. As I still often do – I buy the ‘government loaf’ – it’s cheaper – and slice thick slices. Gotta eat it faster, as it doesn’t last as long – less preservatives, I guess.