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Pete’s Market

In today’s world, every corner has a 7-11, WaWa, or whatever. But, back then, we had small “mom and pop” stores that carried a little of everything.

I’ve been running my mind through the aisles of Pete’s Market as best I can, but mostly, there are fragments: the worn wooden floors, potato chips in the long aisle at the back, penny candy near the register, a black worn counter at the register that I could dig my fingernails into when no one was looking, a round lit clock that advertised cola of some kind, and double screen doors was at an angle to the corner of 11th and Park.

The meat counter ran along the short left side of the store but its top was way over my head which put me at eye level with red meat,huge linked sausages, and whole chickens behind glass. When my mother bought meat there, Pete was the one who cut and wrapped the pieces into dark red/brown paper and sealed them with a strip of masking tape.

The year after my father died and I was trying to get used to the latchkey routine, my brother was supposed to come home straight from school to look after, but he rarely did. Not really. On the days he would come home, he would be grumpy and plop in front of our old Philco black and white TV (my mother still had that TV when we moved her out 44 years later). Somehow, he seemed to always have a little money and he would “send” (command?) me to run up the street to Pete’s to buy his favorite snack: a bag of chips and a quart of milk. My enticement would be the promise of shared chips, but of course, the results were unpredictable in the number of chips I would actually get. After some months of this, I caught on and negotiated more firmly for a specific count. That was a flabby year.