12/08/09 - posted by candis smyk hurlbut
That little shop had me for a customer for two or three years. I traded--more about this below--with this old woman (probably only 50 or so, which is old to 10 and 11 year olds) who was called, "Ma," wore glasses with Scotch tape on the frame, and half-sang, half-whistled this odd little tune to herself. Ma was really very pleasant to me, and appeared happy to have my one and five cent purchases.

I don't know how she managed to make a profit, but as mentioned here many times previously, it didn't take as much to live on back in the 50s. She often did baby sitting as well, watching a child left in the shop with her.

Along with penny candy, which really was a penny, soda pop, school supplies and some other miscellaneous items, there were used comic and paperback books. I believe the preowned reading materials were 5 cents, or you could trade two of your used comics and/or paperbacks for one comic or paperback of your choice. Since Laguna Honda School (NOT the retirement home) was across the street, she had at least some cash business every day after school. I dropped in now and then after I gradated to Hoover Junior High. I don't remember if I outgrew the place or it closed.

I suspect it was kept rather dim to keep PG&E costs down. (If it was a little dusty, it was not as noticeable, either.) The odor was from all the old paper--there were those comics and books.

Today, if that store were there, it would be a chain convenience store, everything would be bright and new, cranky clerks would discourage children, and Ma would be on public assistance. As I look back, I admire her. Somehow, she managed to keep herself, and her pride, going. Now, after more than 50 years, I wish I had heard her story.

Thanks for reminding me of the little store from long ago!
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