Saturday Shopping Days

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A Time Before Shopping Centers and Malls when it was Saturday Shopping Days

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What Saturday Shopping Days looked like

Main Street Middlesboro 1930/40,  Courtesy Library of Congress

Saturday Shopping Days

When were young and growing up the term “shopping center” was never heard of. It was all about Saturday Shopping Days. In fact I am not sure if they were around in the 60’s, if they were the number of them must have been small, as in maybe located in some very large city somewhere. What I do remember are the Saturday Shopping Days. I would like to present just a short clip from my memories so I can put you back to those days in your memories and maybe it may remind you of those days for you as well.

“Beep, Beep, and an occasional ah-ooh-ga” breaks the busy day traffic as the thumps and bumps of cars pass by within three feet of us. The occasional sound of the squealing of brakes and tires skidding to a stop, trying to beat the light,  can be heard as we approach the crosswalk ahead. As I glance up and see an opening between the crowd and can now get a good look, I can see the shoppers are all walking along the sidewalks in single file much like the traffic in the streets who are also a part of all the hustle and bustle. I wonder if someone told them that they must always stay to the right as they pass shoppers going in the other direction. The sidewalk traffic is shoulder to shoulder with the kids kind of hidden down below in the midst. I see a lady at the corner waiting to cross on the light change and see her hat above the crowd. The pretty red and pink flowers stand out among the pretty ribbon that hangs from brim. As I look at other passersby it appears to me that about everyone is dressed as though they are going to a wedding. The older men are all wearing hats and shoes that are two colors, black and white.

All along the sidewalk are doorways that go to different stores. Daniels is just ahead with the green storefront banner towering above the street. Western Auto is across the street and I remember my first bicycle came from there.  Montgomery Wards and Sears stand across the street from each other. I remember looking through the catalogs they mailed out to us. Larger than four of our phone books stacked atop each other. (Telephone party lines are a story for another day)  I accessorized my bike from the Sears catalog right down to the light that worked off the wheel spinning do hitchy thing you put on the back wheel. The faster you peddled the brighter the light became.

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What Saturday Shopping Days looked like

Middlesboro, Bell County, 193/40 Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Growing up in the county of Knox we always went to Corbin, the adventure was called “Going to Town”. Only an eight mile trek but it involved a week long planning session for our family to get prepared for. Who was driving where, where we to meet up at and if you go to this store will you get this. It was a great thing for a kid riding in the backseat and peering out the windows at all the sights and people. Every town had a landmark, Corbin had the underpass. The underpass was very short but was lit up at night and made you think you were in New York to all of us kids. Dad would blow the horn as he went through to hear the echoes. We would roll down the windows and shout to hear it bounce back.

These were days when we first heard of Streakers. It was everyday when you would see it in the news. It was also happening in our communities. It was during this time the song The Streak came out. These were days of muscle cars and no one worried about how much “Gas” the car took to drive around.  Heck it was twenty three cents a gallon when I was a kid.

As I look around the area now I regretfully have to admit that most all of it is gone. Those were the days when everyone that went to the bank got candy handed to them for the kids. You could go to the country store and buy “penny candy”. It came with the little bitty brown paper bag handed back to you. The days when “pop” came in glass bottles and you got three cents back when you turned the empty bottle back in. It was called “getting your deposit back”.

Saturday Shopping Days

Thank you for listening,   Marty Wyatt