I was shopping the other day, and it came to me how different the experience was from when I was a child. Now we certainly have more from which to choose, and what we have may be, in some cases, safer and better quality. However, a great deal was lost when we went from the local grocery store to the big chain supermarkets.
When I went shopping with my grandmother the store owner was behind the counter. On the counter was the cash register and on the wall behind it was a tier of cubbyholes. In each hole was a sales book. You were greeted with, "Good morning, Mrs. Smith. What can I do for you today?" You did not get your own groceries. If you were just picking up one or two items you told the shop owner what you wanted. If you were picking up a number of things you might hand him your list. He went around and took the requested items from the shelves and put them on the counter. He measured and weighed the items that were not all ready packaged, packaged them and put them on the counter. While he was doing this you were wandering through the store looking at sale items or new things that might have come in. If you spotted something you wanted, when you returned to the counter you told him, and he went and got it.
When you were through shopping the grocer reached behind and took your book from it's cubbyhole. Your name was written across one end of the book, but the same books had been in the same cubbyholes for years. He could have found yours blindfolded. In it he wrote your purchases and total due. Once a month the man of the house came in and "settled up", paying the bill in full. My grandmother always had enough money with her to pay the bill when she got the groceries, but that wasn't done. It was a man's obligation to take care of the family finances. It was a system based on trust. The grocer did not have you sign anything before establishing an account, and you never checked his figures. You trusted he had entered the correct amount, and he trusted you to pay it.
If you lived too far out to walk into the store you could phone your order in, and it would be delivered by a local boy on a bicycle. My husband delivered groceries for his local store as well as filled orders and did whatever odd jobs came up. He made the magnificent sum of $5.00 a week working eight hours a day, six days a week all through his summer vacation from school. Allowances were unheard of. Children were expected to work for their spending money.