Thursday, November 09, 2006


I can remember making the trip to Mulder’s Red Bell Market with my brother - a note from my mom authorizing us to buy her cigarettes tucked into my shirt pocket. It was just the times – you could walk a mile or so without fear of molestation or drive-bys and the store would sell cigs to you if you had a note. The only challenge was dodging the cars while crossing North Avenue – if you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball.

Mulder’s was a small family operation, not like the huge A&P on Burleigh. Everything including the aisles and the shopping carts were scaled down. The A&P might have had better prices and more selection, but it was a lot farther away. We didn’t know it, but Mulder’s was one of the rapidly vanishing neighborhood grocery stores.

My brother and I were attracted by the nickel candy and the incentive of six boxes of Milkduds for a quarter. They had quarts of Galaxy grape soda for eighty cents, a dime coke machine out front and a pay phone with phone numbers scrawled on the brick wall next to the phone. We spent a lot of time hanging around the store, stopping in after school to ruin our appetite before dinner.

The store was small, dimly lit, and smelled of spices. The floors creaked as we’d make our way back to Mr. Mulder’s meat counter. He did his own butchering - the hamburger was a fresh red braid of meat pouring from the grinder into cardboard container, then wrapped smartly in white paper. No carbon monoxide treated crap at this store.

Those days are gone, Red Bell markets are just a faded memory as are most of your small ma-pa kind of groceries. That store was a big part of our neighborhood as well as our childhood and though the market is long Mulder’s lives on in my heart.

16 Comments:

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

yeah those precious days r gone Phos, but we have the memories forever! Nice one.

Keshi.

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

keshi: Thanks!

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger crallspace said...

That's cool to have memories of a Mulder's Type store.

We had a few of those. Most noteably, the El Camino restaurant in Schererville, IN. Carlos the waiter was always so nice. Sure, it wasn't a grocery store, but a hangout for us kids.

The flooding didn't affect us or our county. The coastal areas got nailed.

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger blonde71274 said...

I could have sworn you were describing the mom and pop store I worked at when I was in high school. I can't even remember the name of it now. That's pathetic. One thing that I thought was odd was that they would give people groceries on credit. I don't mean paying with credit cards. I mean on good faith. There was a file that was kept and some people owed hundreds of dollars! Can you even imagine that now?

 
At 7:06 AM, Blogger How do we know said...

I kind of agree.. the mom and pop stores have been edged out by organised retail.. but they are solrely missed. I have a feeling that at least here in India, they cannot die out.. there is too much on offer - the local news, the local phone numbers at fingertips of the "aunty" and the feeling that we have to grow tall enough to see the counter in the shop..

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Fuff said...

It's the same here Phos. Tesco have taken over what appears to be the entire country. You have to look for a place to buy meat that isn't already sitting on a nappy in a plastic sealed box nowadays.

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i miss those types of stores.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Eternally Curious said...

Nothing related to this post, Phos - but I did want to stop by and wish you a happy Veteran's Day...and to say Thanks!

 
At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Hammer said...

I miss those old stores.

Thanks for the good story.

And I made over $900 last month cornholing spammers like the ones above.

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger Fancy Laces said...

hmmm, even though I cannot related to what you are talking about...I can see that your writing skill certainly is way more than a monkey pounding on a keyboard...

hehe

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger jin said...

All of ours are gone here, too. There was one every couple of blocks on a corner.

In some respects I don't think progression is a good idea.

Hope you're doing ok phos! Miss ya! :-)

 
At 3:31 AM, Blogger Die Muräne said...

Cool post, phos. Brought back some good memories from my childhood days. Unfortunately not many stores like that survived here.

crallspace: Schererville, IN? Has this place swiss origins? Because "Scherer" is a very swiss last name. Also my name ;) funny to see

 
At 3:40 AM, Blogger Die Muräne said...

naaa, just googled and learned Schererville was founded by some Germans... :*(

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

CS: Sad about the coast, but glad you are high and dry!!

B71: I never did retail, I was a plate-jockey and I even remember the patterns on the plates from the different restaurants were I was employed. I think the thing I miss most is everyone knew you when you walked into the store.


HDWK: I saw the same thing in Korea and the Philippines - lots of small markets. I was told the small markets in Korea were all run by the same family, though I do not know how true that was. I used to by Mosquito Killer coils and Soju at those markets. Even though they were in a different culture/country I could see a lot of similarities, though the smell of the spices was distinctly different! There is a small Indian market near my son. I love going there and buying the hot peppers, curry leaves, and Bhangra music. It is fun to just check out the shelves and see all the different foods available. I could spend a couple hours in there, but the family is less enthused than I.

Fuff: I think we have Tesco here too… We have several mega-marts within about five square miles, I do not know how they make a go of it!

Dak: Roger that. The employees at the small market treated you like family, the big market employees act like you are an inconvenience.

EC: Thanks! And a fine Vets day it was. I like to dig up all the classic war movies such as “The Longest Day”, “The Guns of Navarone”, “All’s Quiet on the Western Front” and “Battle Ground” and watch them.

Hammer; Thanks. I suggest public execution for convicted spammers, that might help cut down the amount of crap. Kurt Vonnegut proposed a form of execution called “The Hook” in one of his books – excellent suggestion.

FL: Well, a rather large monkey…

Jin: Good thing we still have Ye Olde Corner Cake Shoppe!! Keep the faith babe!

DM: I did love the Open Markets in Kaiserslautern. Everywhere I traveled in Europe I kept an eye out for those markets, it was enjoyable just walking through and watching the commotion!

 
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