The grocery list: You can’t stop with just milk and eggs

By Bill Shepard

Editor’s note: This column first appeared in 2016

I awoke this morning and crawled out of bed. I stretched and yawned then headed for the kitchen. My good wife, an earlier riser than I, was already there. She was preparing breakfast. We spoke as I entered the kitchen. That was the way we began our day.
I started the coffee to brewing as I do each morning. My wife does not drink coffee, never has, so I make my own to suit my taste.
My coffee finished perking and I poured a cup, added cream and sweetener, then took a seat at the table by my wife. She is a light breakfast eater, and I seldom eat more than a cookie or a piece of cake and drink my coffee. Yes, I know what the health books say about the breakfast meal’s importance, but neither of us have followed that good advice.
My wife looked at me and spoke, “We need eggs from the store; we only have three left in the refrigerator.”
“What else do we need?” I asked, and she said that was all she could think of at the moment.
I finished my coffee, left the kitchen, and dressed for going on outside. As I headed to the door, my wife looked up from what she was doing in the kitchen, and spoke again: “Better get a gallon of milk at the store; we are almost out.”
I said I would, and headed for my car. Inside my car I repeated the two items to myself, “Eggs and milk,” and started the long drive to the big store where I do my grocery shopping.
Being early in the morning, I was lucky to find a parking space designated for handicapped shoppers. This is a huge store, only one of if its kind anywhere, and people come from miles away to do their shopping there.
It is called The Bargain Store, and folk come in search of the bargains it offers. The owner of this store once told me that he employed more than 100 people at this store.
I parked the car and repeated to myself the reason I was there, eggs and milk. I crossed the parking area to the store and went inside.
I selected a small shopping cart as I needed two items. I would use the cart more to lean on than to fill with items, at least that is what I was thinking at the moment.
“Milk and eggs,” I repeated again, and headed to the aisle where I knew I could find them. I had to travel by several aisles as I walked by my eyes were accustomed to looking for the items marked “Special, today only!” I was never one to pass up a bargain!
Before reaching the place where the milk and eggs were kept, I had placed in my cart: sugar, cooking oil, bananas, lettuce, potatoes, cheese and butter. “Better get a loaf of bread,” I said as I headed to the checkout counter. Instead of one dozen eggs, I had purchased three dozen!
At the checkout counter, the items I had purchased were placed in my cart and the girl said, “The total cost is $59.”
I reached in my pocket, took out my wallet, and handed the girl the payment for my purchases. As I pushed the cart toward where I was parked, I said to myself, “I only came for two items and have spent nearly $60!”
I loaded my car and started my trip back home. As I traveled, my mind wandered back to my childhood.
I remembered when Mama would send me to the big Company Store, owned by the same folk that owned the mill where Daddy worked. Mama would write a list of the things she needed, and nothing more. At the store, I would give that list to a clerk and he would place the items in a sack and hand them to me. That was long before we had the kind of stores we have today.
Perhaps that is what I should do next time I start to the store!
I should add that when I arrived back home and brought my purchases inside, my good wife assisting me in putting them away. At the end, she asked, “Where’s the milk?”

Note: When I was a boy, Mama’s weekly grocery list would look something like this:

flour: 24 pounds – 90 cents
lard: 4 pounds – 40 cents
fatback: 4 pounds – 40 cents
coffee: 1 can – 25 cents
lima beans: 25 cents
sugar: 5 pounds – 25 cents
meal: 15 cents
grits: 15 cents
rice: 15 cents
potatoes: 20 cents
syrup: 1 can – 15 cents
Total: $3.25

Bill Shepard’s fourth book and his first children’s book has been published. Shepard and his family worked with an illustrator from Charleston to turn his mostly true story that he wrote nearly 50 years ago into a chapter book for kids. The book, “Fugi’s Great Adventure,” is $14.99 and is available from Amazon. You can order autographed copies from Shepard for $14.99 postpaid. Send orders to Bill Shepard, 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, SC 29673

Author: Rachel Howell

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