When I was growing up, much of my life was spent at Safeway.
All three kids went with my mother for the weekly trip to Safeway on Buckner Boulevard in Pleasant Grove (Dallas). We entered the store and got a cart. I can remember the various stages of riding in the cart, standing on the end of the cart, and then wanting to push the cart.
What I remember most about Safeway is that it was the place where much of life seemed to happen. It was a place where life seemed less complicated:
- Safeway was the place where I found a $20 bill on the floor. I showed my mother and then turned it in to the office. I thought that maybe no one would claim it and I would get to keep it. However, a lady called the store saying that she had lost a $20 bill while she was shopping. Any hope of keeping that $20 was now gone. Turns out she was from our church.
- Safeway was the place where I learned to ride a horse. There were two-coin operated horses in front of the store. Unfortunately, I rarely had a coin. Yet, every week, I sat on these two horses, pretending to be riding, lost in a world of make-believe.
- Safeway was the place where I found the wrong mother. We had been in the store for a while. I had left the cart and my mother in order to look at the candy rack. I found something that I wanted to buy. I looked throughout the store for my mother. Finally, I saw the back of her green sweater. She was looking at the meat counter. I came behind her and pulled on the back of that green sweater. She turned around and I looked at her face. I was terrified. This wasn’t my mother and the face did not look friendly. I ran!
- Safeway was the place where I got scolded while I was eating from a torn package of M&M’s. I was walking down the candy aisle, minding my own business when I saw a torn bag of candy. Some of the M&M’s had spilled onto the floor. Other M&M’s were on the counter. I reasoned that if the package was torn, then it could not be sold. If it could not be sold, then it was OK to eat them. So I stood in the aisle eating the candy. I happened to be wearing my Scout uniform. A lady came by pushing her cart. “Some Boy Scout!” she said. I ran.
Later as I got older, I stopped going to Safeway with my mother. I stayed home and waited for her to return from the store with a new box of ice cream.
One night, April 4, 1968, I was home alone watching television. During those days, there was much racial unrest in the cities. On this particular night, I sat glued to the television as Walter Cronkite announced that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. Moments later, my mother came home from Safeway. Groceries were brought in, as the television continued giving the latest news of this murder. Violence erupted in Washington D.C. for the next five days.
These were difficult and frightening times. As a child, I certainly didn’t understand the implications of what was taking place. I knew that the violence and unrest of the nation, along with the murder of Dr. King, made my earlier life at Safeway seem like something that happened in a simpler world.
Those early memories at Safeway seemed long ago and less complicated next to the frightening events that I was seeing unfold on television each evening. Even today, there are times when I long for the simplicity of Safeway again.