From Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering the Hamilton store
While I was waiting for my car to be serviced at Craig Auto Service the other day, I watched as people selected bottled drinks from the cooler. It brought back memories of the days long ago when my siblings and I selected bottles of pop or milk nickels from the cooler when we visited the Hamilton Store. The cooler wasn’t like the great big modern cooler at the service station; it was a big chest filled with ice, bottled pop (no cans as I recall), and ice cream. There was a bottle opener on one side of the chest.
The store was owned by my Uncle Albert Ottens and Aunt Edith (Dad’s sister). There was a post office in the back of the store where Uncle Albert worked the mail and sent it around the community with a mail carrier. The mail came up Morapos on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. We didn’t have a phone until I was fourteen so before that time Mom would send a message back to Hamilton with the mail carrier if she needed something and Uncle Albert would send it up on the next mail day. When the chicks, that Mom ordered each spring, came into the post office, Uncle Albert got word to us to come down the store and get them.
The store was where we got groceries, too. It was well-stocked with canned goods, candies and other goodies, meats, and some produce. At Christmas Uncle Albert ordered oranges and apples that were always a real holiday treat for us. He also ordered the nuts and candies for the mothers to package in treat bags that were given out at the Christmas programs.
In those early days we usually experienced a few days of steady rain in the summer. It took awhile for the hay fields to dry out and haying was halted so our family got to go fishing for a day. It was a last minute decision so there wasn’t time to fix lunch– but no matter. We stopped by the Hamilton Store and bought wieners and buns, chips, soda, and other goodies. It was a special time for my sisters, brother, and me because we didn’t have wieners, chips, and soda as often as kids do today.
The store was a gathering place for community people. One thing I have always remembered about people at the store was the day that one of the community men was sitting on a gunny sack full of something (I think maybe peanuts) as he fished Vienna sausages out of a can. His hands were dirty so I wondered how he could eat with them. I also wondered what it would be like to eat Vienna sausages as I had never tasted them. It’s funny what a person remembers.
I do remember how much we looked forward to buying soda, milk nickels, and candy at the Hamilton Store. Memories!
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