Monday, August 31, 2009

Memories Of Jack's Trading Post

There is one blog that I read on a daily basis and that I have bookmarked on my browser and that’s Gordon Young’s Flint Expatriates – a blog dedicated to the long lost residents of Flint, Michigan. Gordon never fails to amaze me in his blog’s discussions of “all things Flint” and how that days entry can unleash a endless stream of memories of my old home town.

One of the more recent discussions on the Flint Expatriates blog was about party stores and convenience stores which got me to thinking about “The Trading Post” -- the party store of my youth during the 60s and 70s on Flint’s east side. Located on the corner of Franklin and Utah – just a stone’s throw from Whaley Park – The Trading Post was unique in that they had a huge cement Indian in front of the store – which probably was tied into the theme of the store being a “trading post” – but for us kids – it was a great place to go to spend that quarter or dollar that was burning a hole in our pocket.

My earliest recollection is of “The Trading Post” being divided into two sections. On the north side of the store – they had a limited selection of canned goods, bread and groceries, a freezer with TV dinners and pot pies – and I can even remember a deli-style meat counter – although I can’t remember ever purchasing any meat at the store -- I remember most of the business being done on the other side.

The south side of the building was your basic party store with the packaged liquor, beer, pop, ice cream, candy and chips – but it wasn’t a self-serve operation like the party stores of today – back then -- the people at The Trading Post served you. If you wanted a 12 ounce or 16 ounce bottle of Coke, a M&S Red Pop or a 6 pack of Gobel, Black Label or Stroh’s beer – you went up to the counter and told the person working there and they grabbed your beverage of choice for you from a wall cooler with several wooden doors.

In the front of the store – they had an cooler with ice cream near the front of the store and not just any ice cream – Sealtest – and growing up as a kid – Sealtest made the best ice cream sandwiches.

The Trading Post also had this big rack filled with all the varieties and sizes of Paramount and New Era Potato Chips. Back then – I think a pound bag of Paramount Potato Chips was something like 99 cents and I can also remember that quarter at the Trading Post would get you a big 16-ounce ice cold bottle of Coke and a small bag of Paramount Potato Chips; and if you were real quick and could finished off that bottle Coke real quick – you could turn the bottle in for a two cent deposit for gum or candy.

Being a kid – The Trading Post was the place to get your “candy fix” – they had all the candy bars and bubble gum a kid could ever want and it was also the place for comic books. The Trading Post wasn’t like O’Connor’s Drug Store or the Cook’s Drug Store that offered all of the newest comic books – the Trading Post sold the “outdated” comics with parts of the cover torn off and sold in packages of something like five for a quarter. The good comic/magazine packages had a Mad Magazine or an issue of Cracked at the discount price and I would always go through the store’s collection of comics to see if they had any Bob Hope or Jerry Lewis comics – but usually had to settle for an Archie and Jughead comic.

The building still stands today, but I don’t know who owns it – when I was a kid – the guy that owned it was named Jack and all of the kids referred to the store as “Jack’s Trading Post”. I don’t even think that the store is called “The Trading Post” today and there’s another thing missing from the store when you drive by it – the cement Indian who greeted many customers in its day.

Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a party store like Jack’s Trading Post can open up a floodgate filled with childhood memories?

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