Today we walked up the steps to our favorite hole-in-the-wall store: Turrentine's Salvage Grocery in Woodbine. A handwritten sign announces its closing at the end of the month.
We push the battered door open. My little one hurries to get a cart, as he's done for me since he was a toddler. The chatty red-headed cashier waves, her American flag earrings shaking from side to side.
"I can't believe how big the baby has gotten! I won't be able to see her grow like I've watched your son," she says. I've been coming here before he was even born.
Walking into Turrentine's is like taking a step back in time. The low checkout lanes are pure vintage.
Patchwork wood floors creak as my cart skirts the furniture section and stacks of upholstery foam, back to the case full of lunchmeats. Oh, my husband's favorite Field Ham sausage, we'll never afford you elsewhere!
A friendly stockboy asks if I need anything in particular as he unpacks the last Pepperidge Farm breads. All of it--very thin white loaves, bagels-with-everything, english muffins, whole grain cinnamon swirl--only fifty cents apiece. I take as much as my freezer can hold.
We stroll up and down the tiny aisles. You never knew what unusual foodstuffs the shelves would have from one week to the next. Today, not much remains.
Remember the time we bought cases of Rao's marinara for 99 cents a jar? All those giant bags of seed--we made gingerbread houses for the birds. This is where we stopped before every road trip or houseguest; we could afford to stock the larder with organic juices and Zapps potato chips.
The year the freezer case was full of pie crusts and $1/lb. butter, I baked Christmas chess pies for everyone we knew. No more boxes of sweet potatoes still dirty from a local farmer's field--or pears cheap enough for decoration. Turrentine's even sold sorghum when we needed to remember the taste of our grandparents' kitchen.
Sure, the deals weren't as good the last couple of years. I still kept driving across town. Where else could you shop without bar codes, halogen lights, or a customer loyalty card?
Turrentine's was my country store in the middle of the city. I thank our favorite bag boy for all the times he's helped me to the car--a service that wasn't part of a corporate marketing chain.
With the smile of one neighbor to another, he closes the trunk on the end of an era.