Thursday, August 16, 2007
Daddy’s store on College Avenue
My daddy was Conway Warren Bonds. He was born in Waterford. His grandmother’s maiden name was Conway and Dr. Warren of Waterford had delivered him. He was one of the Bonds boys of which there were several. He was an avid sportsman. I remember him coming home from hunting and he would have quail. That was my favorite food (still is, but I don’t get much anymore.)
He also brought squirrels and would cook them into a stew in a big pot in the back yard. His secret ingredient was cheese. I remember him as an avid fisherman, too, and coming home with lots of fish. He would go with his cronies to Moon Lake over by Clarksdale to hunt or fish.
Are any of you old enough to remember my daddy’s hamburger place? He was ahead of his day as a major portion of his grocery store was the hamburger shop that opened onto the sidewalk. The hamburgers cost a nickel and a Coke cost a nickel so you could get lunch for a dime.
It was located where Jennie’s Florist is today and for service there was a front window that slid open and shut. It was the only place in town to buy hamburgers or hot dogs besides the cafes.
The hamburgers were really delicious. The hot dogs were split open and fried and to this day I love them cooked this way. My brother, Jimmy was often the operator. I was some but not too much.
I was running it one day and was in the store alone and a stranger came inside to the inside counter as there was this convenience also. He ordered a hamburger and a Coke then he paid with a new crisp $20 bill. I had been hearing about counterfeit bills and I knew that much change ($19.90) would deplete my moneybox. I told the stranger he would have to walk across the street and get his bill changed before he could pay. He did and it was okay.
My daddy’s store was a typical grocery store of that period. At the same time in Memphis, Clarence Saunders was inventing the self-service, modern grocery store, but this was Holly Springs. The groceries and canned goods were on shelves with a counter in the front. You pointed to what you wanted and a clerk put it on the counter and sacked it for you. There was no such thing as “self service.” You were waited on by a clerk.
In the very back of the store was a butcher shop with a meat case in front. You decided what you wanted and Daddy would cut the meat you chose on the spot. There was no such thing as pre-packaged meat. It might ruin and that would be too costly. I remember going by the store one freezing winter day and Daddy asked me to stay there while he went to the bank. I was 15 and my older sister had given me her old fur coat, which was black sheared beaver (it gave me a life-long love of fur coats and I’ve always had one or more. Once I traded a Great Dane puppy for one. I would freeze in winter without one.)
When my daddy left, I climbed up on the kitchen stool and prepared to read the newspaper while he was gone, but alas! Here comes a customer, right back to the meat counter. I unperched myself and coming to the meat counter I asked, “May I help you?”
The customer looks over the meat and says, “I’ll take a pound of liver!” I pushed up the sleeves of my beautiful fur coat reached in the meat case and took out the chunk of raw liver. I laid it onto the chopping block. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I took the meat cleaver and went whack right down the middle.
Then I placed it on a scale, which was on the meat counter with the customer watching my every move. Exactly one pound! The customer says, “My, you can really cut meat!” I would have been in a dilemma if it hadn’t been right. It was the only piece of meat I ever cut! At least that kind of meat didn’t have a bone in it, as that would have complicated the sale.
My daddy had a farm where he raised the produce, plus chickens for eggs and a dairy complete with cows with which he stocked his own store. He also raised cotton, had an orchard with apple, pear, plum trees and I do remember him trying cherry trees. He raised sugar cane on his farm and I do remember him cutting me pieces of cane to chew and delight in. He raised watermelons and cantaloupes.
All this from that farm which turned out to be a part of the city today. My daddy did all of this and during the Depression he gave away and helped people keep going.
At that time, a person could call his telephone number, which was 1-2-4, and place orders over the phone of what was wanted and he would deliver it to their door. He always had boys to help and they worked as delivery boys too. Daddy was a big jokester and had a delightful sense of humor.
One day, to play a joke on Will Knopp across the square, he sent his delivery boy to buy some polka-dotted paint. In the 1930s Frank Strickland came in the store asking for a bone for his dog. Daddy knew Frank didn’t have a dog, but he and his sister lived in the past grandeur of the Strickland house and were on starvation row, so Daddy would cut them a bone and leave lots of meat on it for his mangy dog.
My daddy did all of this while being a deacon in the First Baptist Church. He never missed a Sunday. When he died in 1950, the church was over brimming with people, black and white; all were his friends because he had been a friend to so many.
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