Save More, Shop at Findley’s Store

Me in a shopping cart.

Me in a shopping cart.

I mentioned before that Gihon Springs Grocery was a big part of our lives when I was growing up in rural south Alabama.  After all, it was the main source of livelihood for my family, and it had been in my family for two generations.  Papa Findley had established it.  (I need to find out the details from Mom of when and how it was founded.)

The facade of the store was made of glass windows, and Mom used to make big sales signs out of butcher paper.  There was a long banner that ran at the top of the store windows and across the transom of the glass doors.  They promised, “Save More, Shop at Findley’s Store.”  That used to greatly bother me when I was a child.  Because I wasn’t a Findley.  I was an M. 

Mom countered, “But I am a Findley.  It’s my maiden name.”

Her assurance did me no good.  I thought that we should get a new sign that said, “Save More, Shop at M’s Store.”

Aunt Dossie is holding me (7 months old). Can you see the 'Shop at' at the top of the glass doors?  Looks like the old door could use a paint job!

Aunt Dossie is holding me (7 months old). Can you see the ‘Shop at’ at the top of the glass doors? Looks like the old door could use a paint job!

You can see part of the "Save More..." sign at the top of the window, behind Dad and me.

You can see part of the “Save More…” sign at the top of the window, behind Dad and me.

Ben, on his way back to college at Auburn University.  Check out those acid-washed shorts!

Ben, on his way back to college at Auburn University. Check out those acid-washed shorts!

Shoes? We don’t need no stinkin’ shoes!

There’s a stereotype about Alabamians that I would like to clear up.  I’ve heard it said that people in Alabama don’t wear shoes.  Well, they are absolutely right (See photos, below.)

Footsteps in the sand.

Footsteps in the sand.

Destin, FL.

Destin, FL.

Lefty and I parasailing over Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, FL.

Lefty and I parasailing over Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin, FL.

Puppies and toes in the late 1960s.

Puppies and toes in the late 1960s.

Splash!

Splash!

Me at college retreat at Mt. Cheaha, AL.

Me at college retreat at Mt. Cheaha, AL.

We Kids Fought the Summer Heat with A/Cs and Coke-a-Colas

Mom with baby me in front of Gihon Grocery.

Mom with baby me in front of Gihon Grocery.

Microfiche Mommy here again. While I was looking through an old 1973 paper the other day, I found an ad for a 27000 BTU window-mount Westinghouse air-conditioner unit for $399.00.

That would be expensive even by today’s standards. Just goes to show how we southerners will pay dearly for our cool air and humidity controller. I know that I would.

See, I can pretty much deal with the heat, but I loathe the humidity.

When I was growing up in rural south Alabama, Ben and I would visit Gramma M in north Ala. She had one of those window units in her home (but maybe not a 27000 BTU Westinghouse one). We would visit her for a week after we’d get done with camp each summer. (Camp was in north Alabama, not far from Gramma M’s.)

We also had window units in the store, Gihon Grocery. We’d come into the cinder block store after playing out in the intense summer heat. It would feel like we were coming into Alaska, it would be so cold. Wonderfully cold.

Customers would come in with the door banging shut behind them. They all commented. Every last one of them, coming from outside. It didn’t matter whether they’d driven to Gihon Grocery in an air-conditioned Cadillac or an old Ford work truck with no windows. They all commented on the heat. Even if it was just a grunt and a shake of their heads in disbelief. We knew what they were talking about.

Ben and I’d grab a coke from the cold drink box, pop the bottle caps with the opener, and listen to the clink as the bottle cap landed in the catcher with the other pile of caps. We’d guzzle the frigid soda down, feeling the slow burn of the fizz down the backs of our dry throats. One of the store clerks would give us a tissue to catch the condensation and keep our hands from hurting from the coldness of the glass bottle.

We had been drinking the pop since we were little kids. I remember swishing the beverage around in my mouth to keep it from burning the back of my throat.

We’d hang out a bit, sitting on a vacant check-out counter, and listen to Aunt Dossie and Louise chat with customers. Then we’d go back out into the furnace of the outside to seek other adventures.

Aunt Dossie talking with Gramma Findley in the store.

Aunt Dossie talking with Gramma Findley in the store.

8-track Player with Princess Leia Earphones.

Yesterday I was having fun with the microfiche machine at my local library, and this is what I learned:

Forty years ago, there was a critical oil shortage in the U.S.

Tuberculosis was considered to be Alabama’s “greatest health problem” (according to Rep. Bill Roberts of Mobile.)

And you could buy a very nice 8-track player-record changer with two speakers, earphones (the big, Princess Leia-hair-looking earphones), and a cart to hold it all…for $169.95 from Pizitz.

Below a different ad (that asks, “Worried about false teeth coming loose?”) is a small blurb about San Fran’s most famous jogger, Larry Lewis. Mr. Lewis celebrated his 106th birthday with his daily six-mile jog. He also received a congratulatory scroll from Mayor Joseph Alioto.

I guess it was a lot less expensive to jog than to use gas, which could be bought at 44.9 cents a gallon. Extraordinary! One would be advised to think twice before buying a fancy 8-track stero and cart when paying such outlandish prices in fuel in 1973.