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Long Island

When the corner store was the hub of community commerce

At 76 years old, I still have strong memories of my childhood days. I may forget current things like what I had for dinner the other night, but I still remember the good old days. When reminiscing about my early years growing up on Amboy Street, in Brownsville, Brooklyn, the corner grocery store came to mind. Yes, the corner grocery store that kids nowadays would have no idea about.

That’s where my mom would send me shopping. It was on the same block on which I lived, so I never had to cross the street. I remember reading the list my mom gave me, always including a Silvercup bread and a quart of homogenized milk. If there was an item on my list that I could not read, the grocer read it for me. I remember him using a long stick that would claw some boxes that were high on the shelves to get an item down. I never gave him any money, but the grocer would write everything I got on a brown paper bag, then he would enter it in his book. On Fridays, when my dad got paid, we would settle the bill.

Compared to nowadays, it was so much easier to shop. Today, I can’t even put my credit card chip in the right way. Now we have a new law in Suffolk County and if you forget to bring bags, you get charged. I keep forgetting to bring my wife’s shopping list; now how I am going to remember to bring in empty bags into the supermarket?

I just wish that corner grocery store would come back. I miss that personal relationship I had with the person behind the counter. Not only did he know my name, but he was able to read my mom’s handwriting. He even knew how to add using a pencil. Who needs plastic bags anyway? Bring back those paper bags.

Martin Blumberg,


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