in honor of Mother's Day - this week's posts are going to be all about my mom. Stories, memories, a photo or two......
My mom smoked Kool cigarettes
And she made me buy them. Honest truth.
I keep thinking I need to do a scrapbook album titled, “When I was a kid!”
Cuz when I was a kid…parents could send their 8/9 year old kids to the store to buy their smokes. And they did.
We lived exactly a block from the closest cigarette hot spot. We had the corner house…and down the street on the next corner was Pat’s Market. I walked there daily it seemed.
Me in my pigtails, shoelaces dangling, polyester matching outfit that my ma made for me (there’s another post there) two paper bills clenched in my grubby paw. Smokes were 75 cents. My dad smoked Pall Mall – one pack for dad, one pack for ma.
Those were the days man. I was born with pneumonia…did I ever tell you that? Weak lungs, bad sinuses, the works. And both parents smoked in the house – everyone did back then. We had those ashtrays that felt like bean bags – kinda shift them around a bit. The baby would end up playing with the ashes…..ah, memories.
Anyway…back to the story. So – it was often my task to walk to the corner store and buy cigarettes for the ‘rents. We must have been educated in school at some point about the dangers of smoking because I distinctly remember going thru a period wherein I was NOT going to take that walk to the store. I’d rebel, I’d stomp my feet, I’d relay the evils I’d learned that very day in school
And 10 minutes later with my tail between my legs I’d trudge.
Past crabby old Mr. Holmstroms.
Past the guy in the blue house who always stuck cheetos up his nose
Past Zube’s – where I often detoured yelling up the steps, “HEY ZUBE…WANNA COME STORE WITH ME???” Zube’s lived on the second floor and yelling was very much required
Past Ina’s – who was forever scowling
Over the bit of crumbled sidewalk that was forever scraping my multi-layered scabbed knees
Past the bar – 1 of 9 on our street – we bragged about that
and to the store, tender still in hand.
They knew me at the store – when they saw that $1.50 in my hand – they knew I was on a smoke run, not a penny candy run – and they’d turn around and grab the regulars, and smack them on the counter. I still remember that sound, I recognize it immediately when I’m at the store now behind someone buying smokes. It has a certain *thwack* to it.
It took me a few months, but eventually I had a bit of a deal going on with the ladies at the market. Fifty cent pieces were pretty common at that time. I remember when I worked at the family hardware; there was always one or two in that far left cubby. So the way my mom and dad sweetened the deal was if I were to get a 50 cent piece for change…I could keep it. In hindsight, I figure this was their guilt money, and it didn’t take me long at all to work this out with the clerks at the market. They always had a coin waiting special, just for me, so my underage run was nearly always profitable. I remember when my brother Dennis was old enough to begin toddling runs to the corner and my small income was in jeapordy I had to begin volunteering services so as to beat him to the coin. “Mom, you out of cigarettes yet? I can run store for you if you want”
I’d return home with that little brown bag and two packs of smokes and mom would ask, “where’s the change” and I’d show her that big ol shiny 50 cent piece and grin…hehe, look ma, I got lucky again!
My mom, she doesn’t smoke anymore, last I heard. And she quit on her own, didn’t need no book. She’ll probably sneak a social now and then if you’re game, but for the most part..she’s quit. And that’s Kool. Love you, mom!