The little store that was: Part 2
By Bill Shepard
The Little Store That Was amd the Old Man That Was…I do not know why memories of the old man keep tugging at me! Could it be that they have been silent so long and are wanting to be heard? Last week, I shared some of those memories about the man and his little store which I belived to be the first self-service grocery store in Darlington! I am aware that few folk reading my column remember that far back, and more unlikely that any remember the old man that I and others called Uncle Pas.
Besides operating the little store, Uncle Pas endeared himself to the children of the village in another way. When the hot days of summer arrived, Uncle Pas could be seen every Saturday, sitting in his big chair outside of the building. Two big Chinaberry trees occupied his front yard and he would be seen sitting in the shade. Before Uncle Pas would be a strong table, no doubt, build for the purpose that it was being used. On the table would be a very large block of ice. The ice would have been delivered that morning from the ice house across town where it had been frozen. Anyone remember the ice house in Darlington?
Also, on the table there were jars filled with various flavorings that the old man had made. I remember my favorite was the pineapple! There were others and there is no doubt that I tried them all.
The old man had an ice shaverthat he used to shave the ice. The ice would be like snow when he filled a large glass with it. He would then pour the flavoring of one’s choice over it and in a very generous way. Lastly, he would add a large spoonful of condensed milk for sweetner – all of this for a nickel! Sometimes Uncle Pas would ask me to help scrape the ice for him and I would. That would assure me that my next sherbet was free!
The children of the village would come, bringing their nickels. Most of them would linger under the shade of the Chinaberry trees while enjoying their large glass of frozen sherbet and having fun with the village children around. This was a common thing that we all had experienced nd would repeat quite frequently. Before our glass was completely empty, we would ask if we could have a little more ice to take up the flavoring left in the glass. Either the old man would scrape another scraper full or allow the child to scrape his or her own. This practice was quite common, but the kind old man didn’t seem to mind. At the days’s end, someone would help to move the table inside, and the flavoring would be put away until the next Saturday. If piece of ice was left, it would be placed in the drink box where the Coca-Cola and other cold drinks were kept inside the store. How good! How refreshing – I can almost taste the sherbet as I write. The memories are almost as refreshing as the sherbet itself. I see faces and hear voices of children from that time of which I write. I wish I could share this story with them and begin with, “Remember when?”
Uncle Pas had a daughter who worked at the News & Press office during the time of which I write. The News & Press was located on Pearl Street at the time. I stopped there on occasion to buy Blue Horse notebook paper and pencils. I did not know that the News & Press was a newspaper!
Mrs. Corrie Harrelson was the daughter of Uncle Pas, and she was a widow. Her husband was killed while working as lineman with the Carolina Power & Light Company. Miss Corrie, as I called her, had three small children – Charles, Stuart, and Hazel. They were my friends and we played together! They shared the house with their grandpa and his kind wife, Hannah. The memories keep on coming. I must put my pen down!
See you next time! Bye…
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised,” and has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades; and we are delighted to share them each week! His mailing address for cards and letters is:
Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C., 29673