The way we were

Although it was long ago and I was but a child, not yet old enough to drive a car, but old enough to ride my bike...

“Let’s go to the corner.”

Although it was long ago and I was but a child, not yet old enough to drive a car, but old enough to ride my bike using no hands all the way there, I hear the words in my mind.

All the way there was probably not much more than a few city blocks, but it was a gravel road and to get to the corner you had to cross a highway, which even in those days, if memory serves me correctly, was busy.

I think of those words, “let’s go to the corner,” every time I drive by that old corner store, which I do quite often as it is in route to my daughter’s house.

The store is falling down, sticking out like a poor wounded appendage on the prairie landscape, a desolate eyesore, interrupting the fresh face of spring as it slowly springs to life, nodding and quivering and shaking itself free of winter’s clutches.

Some of its windows are gaping holes, others are boarded up and the whole place cries of desolation and loneliness.

But, it wasn’t always like that.

And every time I drive by, I see, in the camera lens of my mind, the flash of a memory and the way it was.

It was a busy store, thriving and always full of customers. It seems to me that the door had a bell that jingled when you walked in and I think there were stools around a short counter.

They must have sold newspapers there, because I remember the storeowner saying my brother could tear a newspaper apart like nobody he ever knew, reading it from cover to cover.

I remember thinking, “is that a good thing? Should I be proud or embarrassed?”

The store also had a meat counter with a glass case, which, for some reason, I found quite fascinating.

In those days you could buy a bottle of pop and a chocolate bar for less than a quarter if you were lucky enough, of course, to have a quarter.

The corner store was part of the small town I grew up in. The town should probably be referred to a hamlet as it had not much more than one street and pretty much all of us lived on that one street.

To me, at least, the hamlet boasted some, if not all of the necessities of life.

It had a school. The school, when I was growing up, only went to Grade 6 and then, all kids, even those of us who were less than brave and did not want to, had to go to this great big high school.

The great big school housed all the kids from all the little one-street towns nearby as well as all the farm kids who lived in-between.

They called it amalgamation.

I didn’t like it. I liked coming home for lunch and playing catch with my dad or my brother in my front yard, which, with a little imagination, could easily be turned into a ball field.

The town also had two grain elevators, at least it did until one of them burned down, and then, a few years later, the second one disappeared too, along with the railroad tracks and the station house.

The general stores were probably the last to go.

But in my mind’s eye, I see it all again.

The way we were.

The store, alive and full of customers, my brother, sitting inside, the pages of a newspaper scattered in front of him, and me, riding my bike, no hands, down a gravel road on my way to the corner.

And then the image is gone, and I’m back to the present.

But I remember. And I can only hope I will always remember.

The way we were!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP engage Major Crimes Unit to investigate suspicious death

Unidentified human remains were found in the burnt residence.

Security footage of the unknown male- Wetaskiwin RMCP seeking public assistance to identify him. Photo provided/ Alberta RCMP.
Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance to identify male in armed robbery

Mickey N’ Minnie’s Liquor store in Millet, Alta., robbed at gun point Oct.13, 2020

Across the province, there are 2,738 active cases of COVID-19, with 18,417 recovered cases. There have been 288 deaths from the virus in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta reports 244 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday

2,738 active cases of COVID-19 in the province

Facebook/ Maskwacis Health Services
Maskwacis reporting rapidly growing cases following long weekend

Maskwacis declared a weeklong shut down on long weekend to curb increasing COVID-19 numbers.

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is still hopeful about the Keystone pipeline if there’s a change in government in the U.S. next month, saying Alberta has been engaging with American officials from both sides of the aisle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carolyn Kaster
Alberta premier says he’s still hopeful about Keystone, even if Biden elected

The Alberta government has agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion as equity in the project

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada’s chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

Canada continues to climb toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
Officer with Prince Albert Police tests positive for COVID-19, force says

Police co-operating with the provincial health authority’s efforts to trace the officer’s contacts

Smoke haze from forest fires burning in Alberta and British Columbia hangs over Banff, Alta., in Banff National Park, Friday, July 21, 2017. Visitors to Banff National Park in Alberta will soon have to reserve a spot for a shuttle bus to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Study shows grey wolves in Banff National Park don’t live much longer than those elsewhere in Alberta

Black Press file photo
Fire destroys lobster pound in Nova Scotia, police say man in hospital with injuries

RCMP say a man is in hospital with life threatening injuries

Most Read