Part 8: A Little Shopping Trip

Friday was a special day. If my father had an early shift, he was already home in the afternoon with the week’s wages. My mother put on a pretty dress, Hannchen and the baby carriage were cleaned up, and I had to put on shoes and a clean shirt.

After that, the three of us set off, first to the grocer’s store. As always, there was a barrel of salted herring and a barrel of sauerkraut or pickled gherkins in front of the counter. Wooden tongs hung from the barrels on strings, and those who wanted could fish what they wanted from the vats. On the counter, under a glass bell jar, lay a giant cube of good butter or margarine. The back wall of the store consisted of endless drawers filled with semolina, flour, sugar, salt, lentils, pearl barley and green peas. 

With small, half-round shovels, the desired goods were filled into bags and weighed. The shopkeeper wrote the prices of the individual items on a piece of paper and added everything up. When enough was bought, there was a sweet for the children from a big jar. My mother first paid the debts of the previous week before buying new goods; the debts on the black board were then cleared. At the bakery and the butcher shop there was no writing on the blackboard, there always had to be money for bread. If there was not enough for two chops at the butchers, then Sunday remained meatless, and a hearty soup was cooked from marrow bones.

A consumer store had opened at the town’s outskirt. There, a different and new sales culture prevailed. There were no herring barrels in front of the glass counter. Most goods were packaged and no longer needed to be weighed. Even the butter and margarine were factory-wrapped in greaseproof paper. People in the same-colored smocks served the customers. For purchased goods there were discount stamps that could be exchanged for cash at the end of the year. The disadvantage, however, was that there was no half piece of butter if the money was only enough for half a piece.

The walk through the village lasted. Mother met many acquaintances for a chat. I was bored, tugging at the baby carriage, and wanted to go home. There came the neighbor from earlier, then her friend Frieda, her sister, and my aunt Emmie on the street. Sometimes we even met my grandma. When we returned home in the early evening, my father had fired up the kettle in the washhouse and had the big zinc tub ready. The great scrubbing began. All the children in the house were soaped: my friend Heinz, his big brother Kurt, me, and a few others. Hannchen was still too small and got an extra bath. After dinner, it was off to bed with a fresh nightshirt. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

💡 Do you have a Linkedin account? Then you can subscribe to my newsletter „The Bright Side of the Doom“ âœ”︎