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Spires: Rolling stores and Bible salesmen

Spires: Rolling stores and Bible salesmen

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I saw a caption under a picture recently that said over 50 percent of the population in the 1930s had milk delivered to their home.

I didn’t come along until the 1950s, but I remember milk being delivered to our house. I believe they delivered milk three days a week on our end of town. I’m sure those who lived in the center of town probably got theirs every day.

Something else I remember was the Bible salesman. My mother bought a large family Bible; when I went through her stuff after she passed away, I found the little card that showed she paid 55 cents a week until it was paid off.

That amount doesn’t sound like much until you understand a loaf of bread was 19 cents and big drink was a dime. A pack of cigarettes were 25 cents and big wheel cookies were a penny.

We had a store about two blocks away in our community. I cannot tell you how many times I made a trip to that store as a child. I would save every penny I could get my hands on to buy candy at that little store.

We lived near U.S. 90 so I would walk along the highway to pick up bottles folks had thrown out to sell. Three or four bottles were enough to get a drink and a candy bar. Unlike today, when people just throw cans out the window, a drink bottle had a value, so you had to be pretty quick to beat the other kids to them.

We lived just on the outskirts of town, so we didn’t have a rolling store come by our house; however my Uncle Cratus and Aunt Nilene lived out in the country.

They had a rolling store that came by once a week. It was an old, large truck with a body built on the back. It had a little porch where they kept kerosene tanks (with a hand pump) and a large ice chest (made out of wood lined with sheet metal) filled with ice and fish, mostly mullet.

I was there on many occasions when the rolling store would pull up in front of the house. My aunt would have a list of things she wanted, and the man would fill a bag with her groceries. Of course, my brother, cousin and I would get a piece of candy and one of those “Double Bubble,” bubble gum pieces, too. They were so big back then one of them would be a mouthful.

We would eat our piece of candy then sit in the yard and see who could blow the biggest bubble. We could blow bubbles nearly as big as our head. On occasion they would bust and cover our faces with bubble gum.

It’s funny how some things circle around. There are no more rolling stores, however there is that big brown truck making deliveries in neighborhoods of just about anything you can think of, including groceries and a host of everything else – even bubble gum.

Byron Spires is a retired newspaper editor. He has written dozens of short stories and serials in the Havana Herald. He recently published “The Curious Life of Marci Bell” in a series of three books. You can email him at



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