Friday, June 12, 2009

Mom & Pops

Pop opened, Mom worked afternoons, Pop closed; that’s how it was in the first Mom & Pop store I knew back in Lordship, Connecticut. It was a small place (actually, a tiny place) that closed for three hours on Good Friday. Tom Burns had the key to the church across the street from his house; when the first pastor arrived and found that out, he told Tom to keep it and open the place in the morning and close it at night.

Mary Burns held down the fort in the afternoons and generally ran the place. If you wanted it, they usually could locate it in the store, somewhere. There was a homemade sign on the scale that read, “The Three-Wonder Store. You wonder if we have it, You wonder where it is, You wonder how we find it. But it it’s made, we can have it for you within 24 hours.”

I worked there for two years, until I was old enough to legally work in the drugstore next door. Tom and Mary had this practice of hiring underage kids who were too young to get working papers. It was the Penquin Food Store and that because the previous owner couldn’t spell, or something; the later owner broke the delightful tradition and spelled it right. It wasn’t right; the old spelling was “right” in our eyes.

Why that Antarctic bird? Nobody really knew, but it might have had something to do with whatever food company furnished the sign years earlier. It, too, was lost in the mists of history. They eventually sold the store to a guy who, also eventually, went bonkers and had to be locked up.


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