Ten items or less, and other myths…

oldsafewayMaybe you’ve already had your turkey, pilgrim, but I write this Tuesday with visions of drumsticks dancing through my head, and hearken back to an era when 90 per cent of the grocery stores in Reno weren’t much bigger than a convenience store. I mentioned a fortnight ago that families 50 years ago had refrigerators only slightly larger than the little countertop units we have in our offices, and even after the World War II many weren’t even mechanical refrigeration – the Iceman cometh. Thus, we visited the market several times a week, and many shoppers were limited to buying only what they could carry or wheel home.
Markets sprang up around town, their locations dictated by demographics. Travel back with me now to a smallish postwar Reno and we’ll visit a few markets – many little more than a room added on to the storekeeper’s home, often on a corner. Some had enough room for temperature-controlled -few stores were large enough to sublet space to an actual butcher shop on the 7-Eleven premises. Let’s mosey around town and revisit a few stores. I’ll probably miss a few; so don’t be bashful about filling in the gaps. You probably think this is easy – just go through the 1950 City Directory, right? It don’t work that way, boys and girls. Many listings are just “B. Akert” or “J. Barnes”, and it takes a little scratching around to find it was “Akert’s Market” and “Barnes’ Cash Grocery.” And some have had a slew of names over the years – I’m gravitating toward the names they were known by in 1950, when the mom-and-pops last proliferated.
The southeast quadrant of our Reno was populating close to South Virginia and Wells, only starting to sprawl south of Vassar. Washburn’s Market was on Wilson Street, later a radio shop. Kearns’ was far southeast at Kirman and Vassar by the new Veterans’ Memorial School. A couple on South Wells Avenue – a redundant address in 1950, as there was no North Wells Avenue – Reid’s, and Polli’s a little further south. Glubrecht’s was far south on Wrondel near Hubbard Way, and as I recall there was a chinchilla farm across the street. With a name like Glubrecht’s it has to be good. Continue reading