"My ... COL'M"
by Stanton Hudson
Friday June 4, 1948
With my ever-loving spouse (Frances) by my side, I went to Fort Scott, in Kansas, last week-end. It was because of Memorial Day. That city was our home until some twenty years ago when we moved to Sedalia and began to enjoy the contacts and atmosphere of this delightful community. Visits with relatives who still live there, were most enjoyable.
But at the same time it was a bit depressing. Less than half a mile from the spot where I was born and reared (if I really ever was reared), is a National cemetery. It holds the graves of veterans of all the nation's wars and some of their wives. There to place a floral token of respect on the grave of my brother's wife. I looked at the headstones in a section not used in my boyhood, and found there the names of nearly half of those in my national guard company which marched gaily away to war in 1917. Many were killed in France, but many more have been added one by one through the years. It forces to one's consciousness the impermanence of our tenure here.
Having reached the age where, like other old men, I wake up early in the mornings, I wandered over to Moore's Grocery shortly after daybreak Sunday morning, while waiting for my host, hostess, and room-mate, Frances, to arise. Sitting out in front was Harold (Pat) Moore, boyhood playmate, son of the original owner, and himself owner for the past 15 or 20 years. Having been my playmate, he too, is at that early-rising stage of life. I could see that his store was undergoing extensive remodeling and attempted to congratulate him. But he stopped me, explaining the store had been sold. He didn't state, but probably to a chain, or a more "up-and-coming" organization.
Thus passes an institution which had a loved an influential place in the lives of those of my boyhood. Jesse Moore, handsome, fine-looking man, was noted for his pleasant smiling ways. He sold lots of groceries but had time to have lots of fun. He kept his place open most evenings and the men of the neighborhood gathered in the store to discuss politics, sports, and kindred subjects of interest. In the summertime they congregated on benches, which Jesse furnished, in the front of the store.
He didn't stay open for any possible profit. He enjoyed the talk-fest too, and the chance of being of service to the fellow who had neglected to get his tobacco that day, or had forgotten to bring home the loaf of bread his wife had ordered him to.
Jesse gave credit, and probably lost a lot (he was generous and sympathetic) but he raised a family, left the store intact for them, and was sincerely mourned by all who knew him at his death. He loved practical jokes. One Groundhog Day he casually asked me if I had ever seen a groundhog and mentioned that he had one. Never having seen one, I insisted on seeing it. He took me to the back of the store and after cautioning me to be careful and not let the groundhog escape, let me peek in a big box which had a little butcher's tray in it with a dab of sausage (ground hog). His laugh was so sincere and spontaneous that no one thought of getting mad. Another time, as I stood with my back to a counter listening to the pros and cons of some subject under discussion by the grown habitues, a spider dangled on his web right in front of me. I slapped at it again and again until I finally turned around and found that the spider was made of a raisin and rubber bands (for legs) and was being manipulated by Jesse whose hearty chuckle was good even to the ears of the victim of his joke.
Although I left the town before Pat Moore became its operator I am sure that Moore's Grocery must have continued in its easy manner of operation. But now will doubtless come bigger cash registers, whiter counters, self-service, shorter hours; faster and ever faster must the customers hustle through. The proprietor won't be there - just an impassive face behind the check-out counter. A face just transferred there from some place like Grand Island, Nebr., to be followed before too long by one from Sterling, Kans.
Thus passes an ara. Perhaps it is more efficient. But those of us whose parents bought their groceries in the stores like Jesse Moore's, had a rich childhood experience denied most children of today.