by Jann Gargiulo — Saturdays were special to Daddy when he came home from work. He would check to see who wanted to go grocery shopping with him. That was a laugh! Everyone but me ran as far away as possible: up a tree, in the creek filled with polio water, over to the nearest neighbor for a “visit,” up to the bedrooms to play “sick,” anything to get out of going with Daddy to the grocery store. I was told by the older kids that it was embarrassing to go with Daddy. He spoke his mind, even if no one wanted to hear! He talked to practically everyone in the store!
First, you must know that my Dad was so tight that he squeaked when he walked! One of our neighbors said that every time my dad took out his wallet 2 or 3 moths would fly out! Daddy wouldn’t buy something, no matter how badly he needed it, unless it was on sale (for real), or he had a great coupon, preferably both! And this is exactly what he was trying to teach all of us! So, every Saturday morning Daddy would go grocery shopping. Momma would make out a list of things she needed, and Daddy would decide if she really did need them! He would choose who would go with him; sometimes just one older kid, sometimes a couple of younger ones (if he had time to train us). Well, this Saturday I got to go! But, so did my younger sister, Ruthie. She did NOT want to go, so I told her to just stay behind me. It worked great at first! But, we had only been grocery shopping with Daddy once before and each of us had gone with an older sibling. We had no idea what was going to happen this time…
Now the real shopping lesson began …Daddy would tell each of us something from the list, for example, mustard. Then another might get saltine crackers. Then each one was supposed to get the best deal available and bring it back to Daddy. Then came the “lesson.”
Well, I don’t mean to brag, but I was a smart little kid (I learned from the older ones). So I thought, “What did Daddy bring home last time?” and I saw the store brand of mustard, so I just got the brand and size I remembered daddy had bought. I figured if Daddy had bought it, it must be right!
But Ruthie, who was always good in math, was standing there figuring the ounces and pounds, then she compared the price per pound … blah, blah, blah! Well, we were both right with the product we chose. Only now Daddy asked us to explain how we came to our choice. Ruth went first, explaining her steps one at a time. Daddy smiled!!! He was very proud of her!
Then it was my turn. I told him how I came to my decision. For a short while, nothing. Then he had a sort of puzzled look on his face, and he asked me this, “What would happen if I had asked you to get me something and you had seen us using it at home, but you didn’t know that someone had given it to us as a gift?”
I looked right back with the same puzzled look. “Who would give us a gift of food?”
“Your brother Ray, when he sends us maple syrup from Maine. Your sister Elsie, when she sends us wheat from Ohio.”
Whoops! He was right! Guess my theory wasn’t so great after all!
Then we got in line! Learning how to pick the right line was enlightening! (But that’s another story.) Then we finally got to the register. My Dad had taught us how to put the things up on the counter so that we could “bag ’em” properly! Didn’t have people to do that for you in the cheap grocery stores back in those days. So we learned a lot that day!
Even after learning so much, Ruthie said that she couldn’t stand all that talking our Dad did. She said that she learned enough that day to last her a lifetime. That she was glad that she went this time. But it was the day Ruthie swore she would NEVER go grocery shopping with our Dad again! And to my knowledge, she never has!