Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Ben Franklin


This isn't the greatest picture in the world, but just take a look at the mist in the upper portion. I love that, it was the reason I broke my neck to get the camera the other morning at the crack o' dawn even though the lighting was all wrong. The goose was gravy, an added bonus. Mmmm. Gravy. On a bird. With a side of mashed potatoes.....

For reasons that cannot be explained today I thought of the old five and dime store in our court house (aka village), the Ben Franklin.

Ben Franklin was in the building in between Cecil Sibley's General Store and the Farmer's Bank of Mathews, which is now the public library; the public library was where the sheriff's office now is. And so on and so on. While my mother would trot to Sibley's for some vegetable seeds or some horse feed, I always raced to the Ben Franklin to check out the toy aisle.

The store was tiny by today's standards. I've seen bread boxes bigger, but as a kid all I needed to see was the one aisle straight ahead loaded with toys. We never bought anything, we just looked. The joy was in the looking and the wondering.

It really wasn't a toy store, that's just all we really focused on as kids. The rest was stuff like knitting needles, yarn, thread, sewing patterns, cosmetics, Rose Milk hand lotion, shampoo, creme rinse, plastic flowers, spiral notebooks, pencils, costume jewelry and glass candy dishes.

In other words, your bare necessities.

The reason I remember the glass candy dishes is one Christmas I bought one for my grandmother. She lived in a house the size of a matchbox and could have used additional clutter like a hole in the head. Yet she proudly displayed that one dollar candy dish that was shaped like a chicken just as if it were a work of art worthy of the Smithsonian.

Baby Sister once purchased a ring for our mother for Christmas. The "stone" was a brilliant bright blue, and I remember Mamma fawning all over it as if it were a diamond.

The Ben Franklin. A treasure trove of priceless commodities.

All for five or ten cents. A dollar at the most.

17 comments:

Annie said...

wonderful photo...I love it!

I remember those little stores.

Gravy..funny you should mention that...I was just talking to my daughter this morning, and she said could I bring her some gravy! What do I call it, gravy powder...mm...wonder if they will let me in with it..she said they did with her!

And Smithsonian..funny you should mention that...my sister and I are planning a trip to Washington and hope to get to the Smithsonian! Hope our Kevin (Rudd) (Prime Minister behaves while he is over there! Or they might not let me in at all!

Annie

ps You are eary today!

Annie said...

early, I meant early !

sorry, Annie

KADouglas19 said...

I remember Sibley's growing up - it's still the same now, since it hasn't been that long since I was a little boy (I'm 23). I used to love going in there while mom shopped downtown. I usually only cared about the baseball and basketball cards. :) The store is not much different now from then.

By the way - don't sell yourself short - that is a really great picture!

Grandma J said...

I used to steal stuff at the 5 & 10 on my way to confession when I was about 7 years old. Then I would confess, say my penance and have another Christmas gift in my stash. Usually it was a Tangee lipstick or a fountain pen. But I do remember chicken salt and pepper shakers for my mom.

Can I tell you that I went back to that store about 30 years later, asked the manager how long he had worked there, and he said the store had been in his family since 1924. So I told him I used to steal from them, and I gave him a $20 bill. He just stared at me. I walked out thinking I had just visited the twilight zone. true story.

Angela said...

Good story, Grandma! And good story, J., of course. Always is, and making me also indulge in memories (endulge? No. it looks like inquiry and enquiry, hard to tell apart). Do you think those hen shaped glass boxes are still to be bought? I`d love one.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie - Thanks. Hey, if you're going to the Smithsonian, you'll only be about 3 hours from here. You should keep going south on I-95 then take Route 17 South at Fredericksburg and keep driving.....you're welcome to come for a visit.

KAD - Sibleys also used to have candy if I remember correctly. There was definitely something in there I always liked and it was edible....Now, Sibleys houses the county tourism people. There's a lot of stuff in there, including work by local artists.

GJ - That's a great story, really. You were a nice thief, stealing for your mother! No candy? That's what I used to go for.

Angela - those hen shaped dishes are definitely still around. I've seen them in thrift stores, yard sales, and I'm sure if I looked hard enough I'd find them in a dollar store of some sort. If I see one I'll pick one up for you.

OK - I won't be back on until tonight due to the paying job.

Have a great Tuesday.

Mental P Mama said...

Our Ben Franklin had creaky old floors, and the scent in the air was a mixture of peanuts and plastic. Nirvana.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

There was a Ben Franklin in the tiny town next to the tiny town in which I grew up. My grandma and grandpa lived walking distance from it. She would take us to shop there so we could buy Christmas presents for our parents. When we got a little older, we could walk there all by ourselves and shop. I totally remember the rose milk hand lotion! And yarn, lots of yarn.

mom x 2 said...

I love those old stores. There used to be one down at my grannys in Baskerville (yes that is a real place) and we would always walk down and get an orange push-pops when we would visit her. It had the old wood floors that creaked when you walked on them, and I'm pretty sure the candy had been there since the 1950's. But I sure missed that store when they closed it.

PHyl said...

The Ben Franklin. I loved it. What memories. And Richardson's. It was such a treat to eat there.

Daryl said...

Wonderful memories .. and I love how your grandmother and mother embraced those gifts .. reminded me of the horrific ties we got Dad .. he wore them even tho they really looked like they cost the $1 my sister and I paid for them

mmm said...

Ben Franklin cap guns, blank guns, plastic army men, toy tanks... how did I ever become pacifist?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MPM - Ah yes, the scent. Ours had one too, but I don't know how I would label it. Plastic, yes. Peanuts....not sure.

Meg - that place had a ton of yarn. I always thought it was such a waste of good space, but I"m sure the ladies who knitted would disagree. (Loved Rose Milk.)

Momx2 - Baskerville...interesting. The wooden floors are the best. The country store next to the Ben Franklin had creaky old wooden planks.

Phyl - Richardsons was great. Pink ladies sipped through a paper straw. How about Fosters Department Store (or that may have been before your time, I can't remember when they shut down).

Daryl - Those one dollar ties were cherished, I am sure. A dollar was a lot to a kid when I was growing up. (Not anymore though.)

MMM - Yes, BF was loaded with that stuff. I had a whole plastic army and a whole tribe of plastic indians, all on horses, all with weapons. Spent many, many hours playing with those things. You became a pacifist because the toys we played with had nothing to do with what we became as adults, otherwise I'd be a smoker (candy cigarettes) and a race car driver (was addicted to matchbox cars).

I do get the occasional yen to be a race car driving, though....

Not Moved Mom said...

Ben Franklin, now we are talking. I used to work there. I completed several years of inventory on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The funny thing is that my Grandmother also worked there (years before me) but the lady that I worked with also worked with my Grandmother. See had clocked a few hours at the old Ben Franklin-to say the least.

The smell that I believe you all are talking about was probably the ode of moth balls because that is where you picked up your supply of moth balls.

Now, Richardson's-loved it! The pink ladies and lime-aides were the best. Who remembers the square dogs? I also, spent some time in Foster's. Do you remember Golden Brook's and who could forget The Wee Folks Shoppe. That is where everyone purchased their Easter outfit unless your mother made your smocked dress like mine.

MMM-Pole Vaulter and brothers used to take their old army men and line them up on a log or rail and shoot them with a BB gun. By today's standard, he should have grown up to be a gang leader. Maybe that's the problem, kids need to go back to the simple toys in life. Good Ol' Ben Franklin toys. (i.e. marbles, play doh, coloring books, silly string, slinkys, and yes, of course, army men.)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Not Moved Mom - I can't believe you worked at Ben Franklin, that's amazing. MOTH BALLS! That was definitely the smell, good one. ALso, I had completely forgotten about the Wee Folk Shoppe...I do remember Golden Brooks' place. There was also Country Casuals - that place may even still be there, I don't know. I know there's a store of some sort there, just don't know what it's called.

Great memories. Thanks.

big hair envy said...

Oh, the memories!!! In Stinky Town, we had the Point & the Ben Franklin (a.k.a. the Head Variety), not to be confused with the Point, etc. We loved the little toys as well. I was especially fond of the little change purses and the tiny spiral notepads. Not to mention the gag gifts!!! Couldn't get enough of that plastic poo:/

Head Variety also boasted the biggest parrot I've ever seen in my life. He lived in the back of the store. You could always count on hearing him say, "Hello, George"....HIS name? George!!!

Groceries were purchased at Safeway, or, the Be-Lo.

LOVE this post!!!!! I've missed you:)

foolery said...

"The rest was stuff like knitting needles, yarn, thread, sewing patterns, cosmetics, Rose Milk hand lotion, shampoo, creme rinse, plastic flowers, spiral notebooks, pencils, costume jewelry and glass candy dishes."

Now THAT was a trip back in time. Creme rinse! I remember creme rinse.

When we'd visit Mormor and Papa in Fort Brag (California coast) we kids would get a trip to Ben Franklin and a tiny toy -- I remember coloring books as my choice.

But when I grew up (a point in time not worthy of debate so hold yer fire) and had a store in a mall, there was still a Ben Franklin down the way. Probably closed about 1995 (a guess). End of an era. WHERE CAN I BUY MY DA-GLO CERISE YARN AND CHICKEN CANDY DISHES NOW?!

Whatsamatta with that photo, CBW? It's perfect!