It was magic

May 11, 2012

Walking the narrow aisles of the corner store I saw metal racks of bread, dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls. There was red meat and poultry in a brightly lit case enclosed with cold glass that chilled my nose and hands as I pressed up against it to examine the contents, leaving two grubby hand prints and a nose print. There were cold cuts, cheeses from Wisconsin and horseradish in open cases with shiny silver rims left smudged by the same grubby hands that couldn’t stop touching things. I saw bags of potatoes next to bags of onions, next to gunny sacks full of unshucked sweet corn on low shelves. Slatted wooden bins, sitting on a swept linoleum floor that was worn so badly I could see concrete in spots, held bright green and yellow peppers, tomatoes and long string beans. In the corner were dusty boxes of Mason jars and lids.

Other aisles held cans, boxes, bags, bottles and jars of soup and vegetables, noodles and spaghetti, mustard and ketchup, pickles and relish. They held paper dolls, coloring books and crayons, greeting cards, wrapping paper, felt-tipped markers, glue and tape, rubber-band windup balsa wood airplanes, pinwheels, and paper kites.

I could see it all—up to the second shelf. The third and fourth shelf existed in a stratosphere that I couldn’t see or imagine. There was magic up there. Mommy would reach up and pull out wonderful things like smoked oysters and sardines, pickled artichoke hearts, and pickled cauliflower and carrots. There were curly-edged, flat noodles up there with the letters LASAGNA on the box, salty soy sauce, and canned water chestnuts, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots. There were Appian Way home pizza kits and home taco kits. Magic, magic, magic.

At the front of the store were candy bars, pixie stix and salty sunflower seeds. More magic.

But the best magic came when Mommy emptied her cart on to the rubbery black conveyor that marched the groceries into brown paper bags, neatly packed into a different cart that we could wheel right out to the car, and when Mommy handed the lady at the register some dull green dollars and received shiny COINS in return! The lady at the register changed those ugly dollars into beautiful coins by reaching into a black drawer that dinged and opened all by itself. I couldn’t understand how the lady did that, but it sure was neat.

It was magic.


  1. A lovely trip down memory lane to the days when eyes grew big as moons at the wonders life held in store!

  2. It’s a memory from when I was no older than four years old. Once I grew a little taller I could see the inside of the cash register drawer and the change-making ceased to be magic.

  3. Enjoyed your childhood story. It is a time when eveything is magical. I remember those days going grocery shopping with my mother, and how much fun I had helping. Nice story.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Patricia!

  4. Oh, your story brought back such memories of how I thought the drug store with it’s candy section was complete magic! I dreamt about being able to pick any candy I wanted. I still have that dream sometimes!! Guess we never really grow up.

  5. I love those moments when we still believe in the magic of everyday things. I felt similarly about hardware stores when I was that young–the old school local hardware store, not your big box. Oh the smell of cut wood and the whir of forklifts. Odd, I suppose, but I was raised by a single dad.

    • My dad was a lumber salesman. I love the scent, too. :)

  6. We should rekindle this sense of magic in our adult lives. There are amazing things all around us that we so often miss because we’re too busy or just not paying attention. Thank you for this delightful reminder.

  7. Your story reminded me of shopping with my mother when I was young. It was magical!

  8. […] It was Magic – Optymyst […]

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