Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Star Cash Grocery

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."  Ecclesiastes 3:1

I got the call last Thursday. 

Ok, actually I read it on Facebook, the source of all my knowledge. 

Star Cash Grocery in Commerce, Oklahoma was closing its doors forever at the end of the day. 

"So what?" you say. 

Well, Star Cash Grocery was right down the street from my Nanna's, about 2 1/2 blocks away.  It was where Nanna shopped.  It was the source off all my candy bars and cans of Dr. Pepper.  And it was my last chance to take my kids there. 

And so, a road trip ensued that took us to Main Street Commerce and of course I took along my camera to have a final Kodak (actually Canon) moment with a grocery store I'd visited a gazillion times as a kid. 

Here's my Star Cash Grocery pictorial, kids included.

This is the front of the store with the original sign.  You'd probably have to be looking for it or know where it was. 

This is the back of the store where my Nanna always parked her gigantic car.  I parked my car there, like I owned the place, right in her spot.  Picture a giant brown Buick Century and you'll have my childhood memory. 

The Nutrena sign stems from when the store first opened 74 years ago and was a grocery/feed store.  A one stop shop.

This is Janet working the meat counter at the back of the store.  Well, really it is the middle, if you count the back store room, but it was the back of the store to me for years since the public isn't usually invited to the back room.  Janet worked at the store for 28 years according to the Miami News Record, but I'll just say she worked there my entire life.  I used to babysit for her when her oldest was a baby.

The meat couter was always run by Junior Geren.  He was always bald, always wore glasses, and most always wore a white apron that would have some kind of blood stain on it from cutting meat.  He made sandwiches at lunchtime and wrapped everything in white butcher paper with masking tape and hand wrote with a pencil the price of the item.  Janet would ring you up at the cash register up front, which is where I remember her most. 

Here's Junior's butcher block behind the meat counter.  I was always told not to touch it because there might be worms on it.  Or maybe it was germs.  I think I heard worms. 

Do you know how many slices of sandwich meat I watched that man slice as a kid?  Me neither, but it was a lot.  Years later I would be very familiar with a similar machine while doing my stint at Arby's. 

Not sure what happened to the old scale, but here's the white butcher paper I was talking about.

See that handled door there to the right of the butcher block?  That's where I got my Dr. Pepper.  Notice the funny signs.  One says "Bald is Beautiful" and the other says "Oklahoma Motorcycle: Cowasocky" and has a picture of a cow wearing socks. 

This is the door to the cooler space behind the meat counter.  There used to be cow carcasses hanging in there waiting for Junior to cut.  I also remember him saving big bones in there for one customer's LION!  I guess it was true.  Could have just been for a big dog.  I was a gullible child. 

That's probably a 74 year old collection of stuff, right there.  There may even be something I gave Junior up there.  Who knows?

One fateful day, I had to use the restroom while I was at the store and was ushered into the backroom.  There was a small closet of a restroom there and I remember it being scary and thrilling to get to use the bathroom at the store.  I didn't get out much.  The door barely opened wide enough for a person to enter.  I tried to take a tasteful picture of the bathroom, but couldn't so I took a picture of the toilet paper holder to show you its luxuriousness. 

While we were back there I found this.  I think it or a smaller one like it used to sit up front by the cash register, right inside the front door.  It used to contain popsicles, if memory serves me right.  I believe the wearing on the finish is from butts sitting on it.  My memories.  My story.  And I'm sticking to it. 

Ok, continuing our grand tour.  You see the meat counter there in the back?  Then there was the left aisle, the center aisle, and the right aisle.  Left aisle had cereal.  Center aisle was home to pecan pies, donuts, and bottles of pop and bags of chips, right aisle was produce and soup. 

I picked out cereal here.

Bananas and potatoes and such here. 

And here's where we weighed them.  Still works.   

Here's where cold stuff was found.  I seem to recall hotdogs and perhaps packaged cheese, but I'm having a hard time visualizing contents here. 

And the soup was here.  And dog and cat food, I think. 

Moving forward...  Hey, who's that yay hoo coming in through the door?  Looks like a relative.  Grandpa EB.  He's the snazzy dresser in the family.  He acted like he didn't know me...  to the other four people in the store who knew darn good and well who he was to me.  I'll steal his sweat band later.

Here's where you would push your little shopping cart up under so that Janet could ring you up and bag your groceries.  I can remember hanging by my fingertips and swinging under there.  I was probably like three.  (The legs belong to Janet's brother, Charles.)

And see that candy shelf there in the background.  When I was too tall to swing, I would stoop under the cart thing and then pick out a candy bar before returning to the customer side of the counter. 

A safe was always part of the front counter.  There used to be a second cash register set up on the safe for particularly busy days.  Junior's wife, Margaret, used to put things in the safe.  Probably money, but whatever it was, it was exciting when she had to open the safe.  Margaret also kept houseplants in the front of the store.  I think she had a cactus bloom once that smelled like rotten meat. 

And this is where I always remember Margaret sitting in between customers.  Maybe not this exact chair, but in this spot, over by the shopping carts.  She would answer a big black rotary phone with a curly cue cord.  Margaret passed away many, many years ago, but this will always be her spot. 

I never thought I'd get choked up over an old grocery store, but this place held so many memories of Nanna and childhood and good times that I found my throat closing off. 

Now find one person who gets teary eyed over the SuperCenter! 

This concludes our tour of childhood and Star Cash Grocery.  Please watch your step.  I hope you've enjoyed my trip down memory lane! 


  1. I loved your trip down memory lane. I had only been in Star Cash a few times but I wish so much I had photos of the drug store I walked to in my Grandma's home town to get Dr. Peppers and candy bars. It had a pin ball machine and a wooden screen door. WAY COOL! Connie

  2. About 10 years into my 25 year career as a health inspector it was my assignment to inspect the Star Cash Grocery. Your pictures and memories stirred some cobweb covered memories of my own. The photos were great and the place really has not changed much, except for the lack of merchandise crowded on to those green shelves. You were absolutly right about the cause of the wear on that freezer chest. Many is the time I walked into the back and saw Junior or one of the guys hanging around the store sitting on that spot. It was just the right height and centrally located. I remember tha bathroom too. You could hardly squeeze in around that door. I believe that toilet paper holder is the original one from at least 30 years ago. I liked Junior and although we had our disagreements, the place was clean. I never did get him to dust that shelf of collectables. But I was beginning to learn that focusing on the important stuff and just grumbling about stuff like that was what kept us working together and the important stuff was always taken care of immediately. What a great post!!! Connie's Clyde


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