I don’t know what made me think about it, but somehow my mind strayed to back in the day when my folks and I would visit the bright red painted Country Store in East Tulsa.
You could buy about anything country there from clothing to seeds, plants, trees, garden tools and much more. They catered mostly to farmers (or city slickers trying their hand at farming) and those living in the rural setting.
And there were actual people who worked there and knew the business and helped customers. There were no self-checkouts or bag your own items.
Stores like that are few and far between these days. Most have been replaced with large box stores that sell lumber, paint, seed and toilet seats.
Around Poweshiek County, Halls Feed and Seed in Brooklyn would come close in service and sales to what I remember at the Country Store. It’s not as big, but it’s packed with about anything you need for country living.
The last I knew, the Country Store, which celebrated 50-years in business in 2005, closed its doors in 2007. A quick search of the Internet didn’t net much on the long-time business.
My parents and another family from the First Baptist Church in downtown Tulsa joined forces in the late 1960s and planted a huge garden on a spot of land in East Tulsa, a mile or two from the Country Store.
They grew everything including watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, okra (a southern favorite), peas, onions and much more.
My parents bought a roto-tiller from Montgomery Ward, another business that has bit the dust, in the late 60s. My dad loaded it in his 1967 Chevrolet C-10 pickup after work at the factory and hauled it to the farm to till the earth.
I remember sitting in my dad’s truck and listening to the AM push button radio. I didn’t listen long as I was afraid I would run the battery down.
On hot summer days, the other family’s two boys, Mark and Gary, and I would spend time roaming the area and shooting off bottle rockets and firecrackers on the Fourth of July.
One year, we got a load of gypsum used for fertilizer. The boys used their craftiness to carve out two monsters in boxes with the gypsum. I thought it was cool.
And it was on the road next to the garden that I first drove my dad’s pickup. He’d push in the clutch and I would shift the gears and steer the truck.
I grew up one half-mile from Route 66. In fact, I walked or rode my bicycle one block on Route 66 when delivering the morning Tulsa World newspapers each day.
My mom and I started throwing the Tulsa World on Sept. 1, 1972. That first day, she had to leave me to go home and get my dad off to work. Later on, he learned to get ready to pack his lunch and leave for work on his own.
Sounds familiar as Debbie gets me going in the mornings and packs my lunch.
I threw newspapers with my mom for almost five years, quitting on July 31, 1977, just a month before my senior year in high school. I used the money I made to buy school clothes and at least five bicycles, three of which were Schwinn Stingrays.
My dad also helped with the newspaper business and we were once featured in one of the Tulsa papers about the family who throws papers together, stays together.
My dad and mom always grew a small garden at my boyhood home each summer.
My dad loved wilted lettuce salads and fresh onions from the garden. My mom would heat up the bacon grease and pour it over the lettuce.
My dad also mowed yards around our neighborhood, a business that he took over from my grandfather on my mom’s side of the family. I took the yard business over from my dad and mowed many yards in the neighborhood in the 1980s.
Living on my block was in some ways like living in a small town. We knew all our neighbors and would check in them. I always enjoyed visiting with the Belknaps on the north and playing dominos with Mr. Bell, as I called him. I got my first camera, an Argus Twin-Lens Reflex camera, from the neighbors to the south, the Watsons. It was their son’s camera and I still have it to this day. And it still works.
I’m thankful that my parents were involved in my life and that of my brother. We had a close net family who ate together, did things together, worked together and prayed together.
They both grew up in the sticks in the country and they knew the value of hard work and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I will always be thankful for their impact on my life, for carrying me to church, teaching me the Good Book, loving me and providing lots of memories.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.