Today we have the Dollar Store but when I was growing up we kids enjoyed theold Five and Dime Store.
Believe it or not, there were semi-department stores like the SS Kresge Company that offered odds and ends for very low prices. You could buy lots of stuff for a nickel or a ten cents. I was always too young to shop there alone. We’re talking about the Eisenhower years. That’s President Eisenhower to those born after the Age of Clinton.
I got caught shoplifting at one of the stores. It was along the main street of Brewerytown, with stores along Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia. Girard was the name of the philanthropist that opened a school for orphaned boys. Years later, progressives got a court to change his will and allow African American boys attend there. But that was long after I got caught at the Kresge store near 28th Street.
I really didn’t want any of the things I grabbed. It was more of the thrill I guess. A really tall woman caught me and scared the crap out of me when she stopped me in one of aisles. I remember as if it was only yesterday. She asked me what school I went to and who my teacher was. I confessed and told her of the Catholic school — St Ludwig’s — two blocks away. “Sister Josephine Frances,” was the teacher’s name I offered while gazing at the wooden floor unable to look the lady in the eye.
“What would the good nun say about you if she knew you were taking things that didn’t belong to you?” She asked. I never answered her and felt the worse shame I have ever experienced.
Dollar stores will soon fade away, just like the old Five-and-Ten-Cent Stores. Now there’s a place called “Five Below” which makes you think a five-dollar bill is nothing but small change.
But somethings will never change. Lessons learned the hard way through shame and guilt are some of them. Confessing your sins are another. Maybe I can get some good merit at a place I hear called the Million-Dollar-Heaven for my efforts in confessing this crime. It would be well worth the cost to finally admit I was wrong.
That picture doesn’t look like the five and dime in Brewerytown. The one on Girard Ave. Had a small jewelry store t o the right and then there was 28th street.
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I used a picture from a photo stock of a generic Kresge store. If you know where there is a real one, please let me know.
Thanks from this Brewerytown kid!
My very first celebrity crush was the result of a purchase from the Five and Dime store in Vandergrift, PA. My brother and I spent summers at my Gram’s house there. She would give us some loose change and tell us we could buy something for ourselves with the money. I walked those aisles carefully looking over all the goods. Finally, I settled for a small plastic wallet. Inside was a celebrity photo tucked in the plastic photo sheets (remember those in wallets?). My photo was of Tony Curtis, dark hair and the bluest of eyes. It was like he showed up in the wallet just for me. I fell instantly in love. Sweet memory. Thanks for taking me back, Michael J.
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I was in the seventh grade when I was caught stealing labels for a label maker. It was two of my friends and me. We were caught by a detective. Had the crap scared out of me, too. I begged for mercy. I paid for the labels and agreed never to set foot in the store again, in exchange for not getting in trouble by having my parents notified. Five years later, I became a cashier at the same store; no one the wiser.
Some things — unfortunately — must be learned the hard way. We’re lucky we never got arrested and sent to juvenile detention centers.
Michael J, another member of “Just Write”