Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Memories of A&P and its people

Juanita Agan-1Recently, I was looking at a picture of the first A & P store location here in Minden.

It was on "front street" or Main Street as it is known today. Today it is the location of Electronics Unlimited and the address is 613 Main Street.

My memories carried me back to those days, and then on to the second location which was where Webster Printing Company is today, and finally out on East Union Street, where the Dollar Store and the AutoZone store is today.

There were so many people who worked there that I remember. One of the ones who comes to mind would be the Manager of the Meat Market - Buddy Moreland. Buddy was such a pleasant man.

One day, as I shopped for my meat there I noticed two women ahead of me. As I stood close by I saw them tear the price tag off of a rump roast and then tear the price tag off a chuck roast.

Carefully they inserted the rump roast price tag under the cellophane wrapping on the chuck roast and in the same fashion put the chuck roast price on the rump roast. When they had finished they put the "chuck priced" rump roast in their buggy and went on.

I was looking for a chuck roast and the one they had mutilated was a pretty lean piece of meat. I surely did not want to pay rump roast price so I pushed the buzzer for Buddy to come out to the counter. I explained that I wanted the chuck roast weighed and the correct price put on it.

He looked at me and said, "Well, they have been at it again." I inquired who, and he called the names of the two elderly sisters. I asked why he did not alert authorities and he said that it would be such a big "mess" and that they only did that about every month or so.

He was too soft-hearted to try to turn these old ladies in. He went back and re-packaged the chuck roast and brought it back with a smile on his face. What a kind heart he had!

At the coffee counter you selected your brand of A & P coffee and also selected the grind that you wanted. Mrs. George Pinchera worked at that station, and she was ready to grind your selection and bag it for you.

Often, I would buy a pound of light roast and a pound of dark roast and have her grind them together. That made a different mix than just grinding one pound at the time. That old Eight O' Clock Coffee smelled so good as she ground it. I sometimes think

freshly-ground coffee smells better than it tastes after the coffee has been made.

Beginning at the first location of A & P on "front" street across the alley from Brown, and Goodwill the manager had bought fresh butter from ladies who lived outside Minden.

There was a Mrs. Holt that sold A &P the best fresh butter. My mother would always send me for a pound of her butter.

Today, no chain store would buy milk products locally. This was before the days when milk was sold pasteurized and homogenized. The glass bottles of milk would have at least two or three inches of cream that had risen to the top of your quart of milk.

My mother would often pour off the top cream and later after it had chilled enough she would whip it into a topping for Jell-O. We never bought just a carton or bottle of whipping cream. I am sure that the milk the A & P store sold was pasteurized but not homogenized.

There were several different managers of the A & P stores here. One of the first that I remember was Mr. Will Davis. I don't remember the sequence that they were managers but Mr. Johnnie Mays was the manager of the new store on back street.

Then, Mr. Alton Kiser was there for a time at one of the last two locations and later Mr. Leon Gray (who married my classmate - Martha "Pickett" Martin.) I am sure there were others that I do not remember.

There were certain A & P brands of vegetables that I learned to like and always bought. It was hard after they closed here to learn other brands to buy.

There were many checkers that I remember at the last two locations.

Frances Upton, whose father worked at Andress Motors Company where I worked, was one that I remember. Another who was so nice was Mrs. Leo Bailey (Ruby). I believe that Violet Langheld Goodwin worked there, too. I may have remembered them from the Piggly Wiggly store, but I think they were the ones at the A & P store. There was also a Mrs. Toms, but I never did check out through her line.

During the years of World War II so many things were rationed. Occasionally they would get in Eagle Brand Milk, and since sugar was rationed it was a treat to be able to use a can of Eagle Brand Milk in a pie (and you did not have to use your precious sugar.) There would not be many cans shipped to each store, so you were fortunate if you got there at the same time the Eagle Brand Milk got there.

The same was true of bacon. I loved my BL&T sandwiches, but I had to say "goodbye" to them for the duration of the war.

A few times men came in from the country with home cured meat, and on at least one occasion I was able to buy a slab (don't know if that was a pound or more) of that delicious home cured bacon)

The third location of the A & P was on Union Street. It was much larger than the two previous locations and some of the same personnel worked there.

Buddy Moreland was the manager at the meat market at this location. I believe that Mr. R. D. Cox was a butcher at that location, too. Betty Thompson worked in the meat market there. It may have been Piggly Wiggly that they worked for, but I think it was an A&P store.

Today we have no A & P store here. It was one of the first self-service grocery stores in this area. Later we had a Piggly Wiggly. There had been a Piggly Wiggly back in the twenties but it closed early on.

Occasionally, I will see someone who worked at the A & P store, but for the most part it only lives on in my memories. I can just smell that freshly ground coffee. Think I'll go and get a cup of my coffee now. Remember how good that freshly-ground coffee smelled??

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years before her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing selected articles from Mrs. Agan's Cameos column every Wednesday.­­






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