Thursday, December 18, 2008


Mathews folks will recognize this as Cobbs Creek Market. I know it's been there a while (as in forever), but at one point in time Alda's parents ran this as well as Port Haywood Market. Remember when the door/entrance was on the side of the store facing the road (directly under the Coke sign in this picture--you can see it's all boarded up)? There are various rumors as to what's going to open up here ever since it shut down several months ago. (Or years ago? I lose track.) Personally I'd like to see a Vietnamese restaurant or a Japanese steak house, but something tells me that ain't happening.

Speaking of old stores, that reminds me of my grandmother, Nanny.

Nanny was my favorite grandmother, and perhaps my favorite person, of all time. She was from Gloucester, born a Strigle; her mother's maiden name was Kemp; and she wound up a Jones by marriage. She ran a store out of just about every building between Flat Iron and Gloucester Court House, or so it seemed. She raised my mother by herself, and worked a paying job almost until her very last days on this Earth.

She had no license and no car, so she had to walk to get to the store, which was either Leigh's Market (where I "accidentally" stole a candy bar and, when confronted, hid underneath her bed and denied taking it), or the Colonial Store in Gloucester Court House or Safeway, where the Gloucester Library now stands.

Of course to walk to any of these stores, we had to pass by Tuckers--the most incredible toy store this side of FAO Schwartz except it had wooden planks for a floor, and a delightfully musty old smell-- in the court house circle next to the CJ Kerns Real Estate building. Tuckers made the walk from Corr Street to the grocery store all the longer, but more than worth the effort.

No matter where we went (where "went" equals "hoofed it"), I'd be starved half to death whenever we finally lugged the groceries all the way back to her petite house. But you could never open up anything or touch anything or slobber over the accidentally-procured candy bar until she went down her ticket and checked the price tag on the product against what she was charged by the check-out lady. She'd pull a pencil from behind her ear and start checking, and counting, and re-checking, and re-counting, and ciphering and STARVING A POOR, HUNGRY, IMPATIENT, DETAIL-DISORIENTED CHILD--CLUTCHING A CONTROVERSIAL CANDY BAR--TO DEATH.

In the unfortunate candy bar episode, she picked up her rotary phone, dialed Leighs Market, and told them we had an illegal candy bar outside the store premises. They thanked her and said she could pay them next time she came by, but the lesson was not lost on me. All I can remember is hiding underneath that bed counting the mattress springs, because Have Mercy was she gonna let me have it once I came out.

I miss my Nanny, and I miss Tuckers toy store, but I do not miss having to wait for the coast to be clear so I could escape from underneath a bed where I held the most delectable candy bar ever to be gently lifted from Leighs Market. I honestly did not know I had stolen anything, either that or I had really convinced myself that I hadn't.

The details escape me.


Val said...

wonderful memories - haha - the illicit candy bar tastes so much sweeter?

Unknown said...

I love those stories. Our memories hold every tiny detail for eternity. I had a similar incident and could actually hear my heart beating out of my chest, wondering if I was going to get locked up in juvenile the age of seven.

Ann Marie said...

When I was young my grandfather owned and ran a gas station in Cobbs Creek he also had Cannon's oil company. I remember by grandparents talking to each other from the house to the station via an old army phone. (I think they had the very first cell phones in Mathews) When dinner time came Bygar (don't ask) would go over and relieve Grandaddy so he could come eat. When she came back she always brought a treat with her.. I loved those little ice cream cups that you ate with the little wooden spoons. They never tasted the same as the way they did then... I remember the smell of that old gas station too.. wood, gas, heating oil with a touch or two of love.

Anonymous said...

Is stolen candy similar to forbidden fruit? Just askin' :)

Carrying groceries a 'long distance' it's a great lesson in patience and endurance.

Ann Marie said...

Um.. excuse me but I would like to add a comment regarding an older post.. it would be the one titled Christmas Ligths.. It would the post regarding Bavon. You happened to mention that the only thing other than the building in the shot you posted (which happened to really be Bavon Post Office for many many years… and on top of that right down the road.. like less than 2 miles Motorun Post Office.. go ahead ask me how Motorun got isn’t name.) were crickets and the howling of wolves. First of let me point out that you are quite incorrect about the howling wolves we don’t have wolves in Bavon we have coyotes though, and no I am not joking. Second.. the cricket thing.. we have more frogs than crickets much to my distaste I would rather have crickets any day.. and Third THERE IS ME!!!!

Just wanted to clear up the little mistake in your post there.. 

Big Hair Envy said...

Kemp? Are you distantly related to any Kemps in my county?

Dear God, PLEASE let CBW be my fifth cousin, twice removed. Thanks!

Mental P Mama said...

I love memories like this. My maternal grandmother was very similar. Only she took the bus everywhere. I loved going 'downtown' with her.

Angela said...

I hope your manners have improved? Just joking. I think every child tries to shoplift and has to be brought to its senses (speaking of memories...)

Anonymous said...

I wish, even more so since discovering your blog some six months ago, that I'd written down all the lovely stories my old Dutch aunts had told me. I can now only recall the shorter tales and that seems like such a loss.

Your blog is going to make a wonderful book one day!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Val - I enjoyed every morsel of it.

GJ - YOu always tempt us with just a hint of a big story, and then we never hear the rest. Please tell us about the juvenile delinquency of your youth.

Ann Marie - I know/knew Cannon's Oil well...and regarding Bavon, I didn't know you lived there when I wrote that otherwise I"d have said that Downtown Bavon is chock full of lovely individuals and one post office. Some crickets, some frogs and some coyotes. Hey, we don't have anything better up here in Hudgins unless you want to count Bill Dixons or Donks.

Anonymous - You are right about the lugging of those groceries building patience and endurance. I try and picture my kids walking that distance with a bunch of paper bags, and I can just hear the whining and complaining.

BHE - I'll have to ask Chesapeake Bay Mother about which line of Kemps we come from, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're distant cousins. Practically every one is around here anyway, which explains a lot of our behavior.

MPM - Mine would have taken a bus if we had one...then again, she saved every nickel she had, so she probably still would have walked.

Angela, I can assure you I don't steal anymore, but I'm not so sure my manners have improved....Yeah, my friends and I went through a period of time where our teenage hormones created a great deal of stupidity, but thankfully those hormones have waved bye bye and now I have the old lady hormones kicking in. They don't make you want to steal, they just make you want to kill. (She says, jokingly. Sort of.)

Auds - You should see if there's anyone left in your family who remembers those stories.

Have a great evening, y'all.

Karen Deborah said...

Sumthin about forbidden fruit,.. and I am a Nannie are so cute.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Karen D. - You're too young to be a Nanny. (Can you send me some of those cookies you're baking?)

Anonymous said...

If the frogs eat the crickets, and the coyotes eat the frogs. Who eats the fiddler crabs?? ....asks the lady who swallowed the horse.

Unknown said...

The details never escape you Chesepeake Bay Woman : ). Don't kid!

My Grammy's were the best too. I miss them every day.