As an Indiana farm kid in the ‘50s, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my dad.
He worked long hours in the fields and the opportunity for the two of us to have time together was rare. It is for this reason that my heart would fill with joy when I would hear him call out to Mom, “I’m going over to Zeigler’s for a while.” At the sound of these words I would race to our old blue farm truck, hop up into the passenger’s seat, and be waiting for him when he got there.
Ziegler’s was a general store in Kingston, Ind., just a couple of miles from our house. While going there might not seem like much of an outing to some, to me it was an adventure. Huge oak display counters held glass jars filled with candy; not one, but three gum ball machines, a big red Coke cooler filled with Cokes, Ne-hi Orange, and Choc-cola, and Dad’s favorite treat, the pickle barrel.
The trip was especially great if you went on the day that Mrs. Zeigler sorted the bananas, because she sold the extra ripe ones for a nickel a box. You could get air in your tires, pick up a bag of nails, grab a pound of fresh cut bologna for lunch, and restock you medicine cabinet all at Ziegler’s General Store. I assure you, Wal-Mart has nothing on this place.
The general store provided more than merchandise to many communities. They often housed the post office for rural areas. Those with a large storage room, would lend their space for wedding celebrations or wakes. Before telephones were a fixture in the home, the general store would have a phone used by the entire community, and many stores had a radio where locals would gather to hear broadcasts of political events or keep current on grain and livestock prices.