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.