Shopping for groceries recently with my daughter, I recalled accompanying my mother as she shopped in the pre-supermarket era.  

There were no multiple checkout aisles with computers beeping as they scanned bar codes. What would she think if she could shop at a supermarket?  

The family-owned store of yesteryear was much smaller. Upon entering, you were faced with a counter barring your entrance to the shelves behind it. 

Back then, one handed the grocery list to the owner’s wife and she’d walk back and pick up the various items, bringing them to us. We would then move to the back of the store to the meat department where her husband worked, cutting meat and filling customers’ orders. 

You shopped for pharmaceuticals at the drug store. Snow shovels and garden tools were at the hardware store. Now all these items can be purchased under one roof.

Once all Mom’s items were supplied, the grocer tallied up the purchases on one of the brown paper bags (no plastic) with a pencil she pulled from behind her ear. (I wonder how many mistakes were made in addition.)

I jotted down some prices I found in a book (don’t have the title). During the Depression, bread cost 5 cents a loaf, eggs 29 cents a dozen and milk 10 cents a quart – to cite a few examples.

I must have been about 5 years old as I remember one time when we returned, I heard Mom tell my father, “I spent almost $5 and the bag wasn’t even full.” Now we spend 10 times that much and the bag, like as not, is often not full either.

My daughter keeps our purchases separate and whisks them across the scanner in the self-checkout aisle. I glanced over at the next self-checkout aisle where a store employee was helping another elderly woman check out.

She looked as confused about what was going on as I used to be when I shopped with my mother so long ago.

Leaving the store, my daughter took my hand as we walked to her car … as I used to take hers and as my mother did mine so long ago.

Even though the locale, times and roles have changed, some things have not, and I am thankful.  

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