The little store on West Graham

I must have been somewhere between four and six when Mom took me into the small mom-and-pop grocery store on West Graham Avenue. An older couple ran the place. Once upon a time, I knew the name of the little store. But that’s lost in my past.

Not much larger than my living room, the little store had a chest pop machine standing near the door. First, you opened the lid to see what was available. Then you dropped your nickel into the coin slot. You selected what you wanted and, grasping the top of the bottle, slid it down the track to the front of the machine. There it entered the raceway running across the front until it encountered the exit. You would tightly hold the top of the bottle and, with a mighty heave, pull the bottle up through the gates, which released as your coin dropped into the coin box.

Cluttered about the store was the various items they sold. Near the cash register stood the candy stand. Mom stood facing the proprietor paying for the groceries she had picked out. The little boy who was me gazed upon the display with wonder. That small candy bar looked good. My little hand reached out and took one. I held it in my hand as Mom finished paying. Saying a brief goodbye, we left the store. Mom sat the bag of groceries in the back seat and then helped me into the car.

That is when she saw what I held in my hand. “Where did you get that?” She asked.

“From the store,” I replied.

“That’s not yours.” Came her retort. Then she marched me back into the store, telling me to apologize for taking the man’s candy. I sadly handed the candy back to the gentleman and told him I was sorry for taking it. A smile broke across his face. “It’s alright,” he said. “You did the right thing.” Looking at my Mom with a quizzical expression, he told me. “Here, I’ll give you this one because of your honesty. You were brave to return it.”  I don’t remember the taste of that candy bar. I do remember that not everything I saw was mine to take. And you always paid the store for what they had.

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