I Miss the Mom & Pop Stores of Olde
Though they are growing fewer in number, there is still something to be said for the advantages of the small neighborhood mom and pop grocery store in contrast to their larger super market counter parts with their larger variety of goods.
I like to bake. I wouldn’t say baking is a hobby, it’s just something I like to do when I get bored with TV, (which happens a lot these days) or when I need a diversion from the same old daily routine. When this happens, I get out my mixing bowl and baking tins and set to work. One of my favorites is Mom’s hot roll recipe. It was the envy of all who partook of her rolls. I don’t know if this recipe was handed down to her from her mother, or from Dad’s mother, but it was a good recipe, and one that I like to bake. I might add here, that I’ve long since been drafted to bake the rolls for the family holiday dinners.
When Mom baked her rolls she always used bleached flour. This made for light fluffy and tasty rolls, but some years ago, I got onto a healthy diet kick and decided to modify her recipe with whole wheat flour. Straight whole wheat didn’t work so well, however, because the rolls were a wee bit heavy (sorta like cannon balls). I cut the recipe back to half and half, which worked beautifully with no need for additional yeast. These rolls still had the fluffy texture for which Mom’s were famous, and yet satisfied my desire for something a little more wholesome. I’ve since stretched the recipe to three parts whole wheat, and two parts unbleached white flour, and still maintain the lightness that I desire.
A few years ago, hard white wheat (not to be confused with soft white wheat) was introduced into the agriculture industry and a few farmers began growing it. It has since caught on and is becoming quite popular with both growers and millers. Hard white wheat flour has the same baking qualities as that of hard red wheat, and the same whole wheat goodness, but the bread is of a lighter color—something the kiddies who think they hate whole wheat bread can now enjoy—and it has a little milder flavor than traditional whole wheat. However, it was a while before the superstore where I shopped at the time carried this hard white wheat flour.
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with the neighborhood mom and pop grocery stores. In the old days of the little neighborhood mom and pop stores, whether in a neighborhood of New York City, Los Angeles, or some small rural American community, they were usually owner-manager operated. This owner-manager got to know his customers personally. In the larger supermarkets of today, even though you may be recognized as a regular customer, the intimacy of doing business just isn’t the same as it was with the little mom and pop store. If these mom and pop stores didn’t carry something you wanted, all you had to do was mention that you would like to purchase that particular product, and they would get right on it. With the exception of a few, these superstores have layers of bureaucracy that must be penetrated before anything gets done. I suspect, also, that this corporate bureaucratic maze is just as frustrating to the local people working in these stores, as it is to me.
I did manage, however, to find some hard white wheat flour in another store clear across town from where I usually shopped; which meant, for the present, a special trip each time I needed whole wheat flour. Eventually someone worked through the superstore bureaucracy and I’m able to buy my hard white whole wheat flour at my regular store, but in spite of the larger variety this superstore offers, I sometimes still miss the neighborhood mom and pop store. Another thing that bothers me about these superstores is their constant moving of products around the store just when you get used to where things are, but that’s a whole ‘nuther post for another day.
But in the meantime, why not pop on up to upper right of this page and click on the free download button to get a free copy of my book Buddy…His…Trials and Treasures, and read about the adventures of a young boy growing up in rural America during the 1940s.