Updated: Mar 4, 2019
Rebecca Lane Boyles
Before the age of big-box stores, every neighborhood had a corner grocery where you could buy milk, bread, and in a child's eye – wonderful penny (yes, really a penny!) candy!
My family in the early 50's lived at 519 Walnut Street. There were two such “Mom & Pop” stores within walking distance. They both were only a block away, so Mother could stand on the corner and watch to see that we made it safely to and from either store.
Collier's Grocery was owned by Mr. Clyde Collier. He was a gruff old man, but I think we kids had him figured out. He wasn't as bad as he sounded!
He opened the store around 8am and school started at the same time. Many a morning, we would be getting ready for school and discover we were out of milk. I can remember running to his house and knocking on the door, “Mr. Collier! Mr. Collier! Please open up! We're out of milk and need some before we go to school!” He might grumble a bit but he always opened up.
Sometimes different companies would sponsor a promotion for new or improved products. The one I remember at Collier's was Wonder Bread.
Wonder Bread was originally touted as “Building Strong Bodies 8 Ways”. They had changed their advertising to “Building Bodies 12 Ways,” so they set-up a small merry-go-round in front of Collier's Grocery. Of course kids from all across town wanted to ride it while they did their parents shopped. The company also gave away miniature loaves of bread to the children. They were about six inches long and just perfect for a doll tea party!
Mr. Collier had a wonderful selection of soda-pops! Nehi Grape, Orange Crush, Peach, Raspberry, Black Cherry, and even more I can no longer recall. It made the perfect ending to a hot summer afternoon to go to Collier's and select a different flavor each time. Of course each of us was convinced ours was the best!
The store that really stood out in child's eye was Hall's Grocery. I never knew their first names – they were just Mr. and Mrs. Hall. What I found really interesting was the entire front yard was paved in soda bottle caps. When you walked on them, they made a delightful crunching sound!
As a small child you were sometimes met with a challenge to enter the store. Mr. Hall had two enormous Chow-chow dogs. They would growl, show their teeth, all the while Mr. Hall would be assuring you, “they ain't gonna bother you!” I was always just sure they were going to grab me by the leg and drag my body under the house for a midnight snack!
If you made it past the two dragons at the gate and gained entry to the store – you found the Holy Grail of a child's dreams! You immediately found yourself in front of the world's (or at least Augusta's) largest case of penny candy! Double Bubble Bubble-Gum, Bazooka Bubble-Gum, Salt-Water Taffy, Jaw Breakers, Candy Cigarettes, Wax Lips, Wax Teeth, Fruit Juice Filled Wax Soda Bottles, All-Day Suckers, Lolly-pops, and many others I remember but no longer recall the names of.
You had to make you choose quickly as Mr. Hall was not as patient as Mr. Collier. I don't mean that as an insult! You would not be either if bombarded by 3 children each asking you 15 times what they could buy with a nickel!
Both stores are long gone as well as many others of their type. Nowadays the closest we get to these iconic establishments is the local 7-Eleven. They just don't have the charm and sense of family you felt in the neighborhood grocery.
If you remember others from your neighborhood please write and let us remember with you a piece of Forgotten Augusta.