Shopping At The 5 & 10 - When Sheets Had Hems

by Herb Harrison
(California, USA)

G. C. Murphy Co. Store

G. C. Murphy Co. Store

I remember buying bed sheets at the G. C. Murphy (5 & 10) store. We could buy various colors, but they were all "flat," not "fitted." They all had wide sewn hems at the top of the sheets, so you could tell easily which was the long side when you were making your bed.

I remember the "Nuts Counter" at the 5 & 10. They had a roaster right at the front of the store, with bins of various nuts that you could buy by the pound, still warm from the roaster. Ah, the smell -- it made you hungry.

I remember the toys department at the 5 & 10, where I bought model airplane kits for 98 cents each. (The $1.98 kits included glue and paints -- I couldn't afford them.) I wish I could find those cheap kits now. I would hang the airplanes from the ceiling like I used to, when I was a kid.

I remember when I needed to call home, I could go to the 5 & 10 and ask permission to use the telephone for a local call -- and the nearest clerk would say yes -- without some kind of Corporate OK.

Those were the good days.

Comments for Shopping At The 5 & 10 - When Sheets Had Hems

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Do You Remember The Lunch Counters?
by: Don (Webmaster)

This piece brings back memories, Herb. As far as I know, G. C. Murphy didn't operate stores in Canada, but we did have a Woolworth's and Kresge's here in Peterborough, Ontario, my hometown. I have fond memories of the lunch counters in these stores. They were a popular spot for quick and inexpensive meals before the advent of the fast food chains.

As a youngster, I loved the revolving stools, the seemingly endless counter, the gleaming glass display stands for pies, tarts, and cakes, and the grilled cheese sandwiches and sodas that Mom sometimes treated me to after a long afternoon of shopping and trying on clothes. Today's fast food courts and doughnut shops just aren't the same.

Even if you had only 50 cents in your pocket, you could find some toy or trinket worth buying. Prices were kept very low, and the service was exceptional when compared to today's standards. I miss those old stores.

Lunch Counters
by: Anonymous


Do you remember the White Castle restaurants? We had one of them in the nearest "big city," McKeesport, Pennsylvania. I used to stop there after work for three or four "sliders" (small, plain hamburgers). I can still almost smell the warm, greasy aroma of that white-painted store with its fogged-up windows in the winter.

This was before the spread of the "fancy" fast-food chains, like "Big Boy" and "McDonald's" restaurants -- which helped to kill the 5 & 10 lunch counters.

Lunch Counters
by: Anonymous

The best thing about the lunch counters was the soda fountains -- real rootbeer floats and frappes. The hamburgers were actually made from fresh ground beef and not frozen hockey pucks, and those jelly donuts with real jelly that filled the donut to the brim. You could always get Dad to buy one for you while he drank coffee and mom shopped the store. Aye, those were the days.

Kresge's Lunch Counters
by: Lee

Wow! I had forgotten all about Kresge's and that lunch counter. And those toys that were very affordable. I may only be in my late 30s, but I remember that lunch counter. Me and my grandmother would go there every Sunday afternoon. I miss that personalized touch that they would give you.

5 & 10 Personal Service Remembered
by: Herb Harrison

At the G.C. Murphy 5 & 10, if I had to call home, I could ask permission to use the "house phone" for outgoing calls. I always got the OK for local calls, especially when the clerks recognized me as a "local kid" who always called home for permission to buy something.

Kresge's Lunch Counter
by: Bonnie

Oh, the days of the 5 and 10 cent stores and lunch counters. The food was delicious, and the service was impeccable. The french fries were great, and their ketchup tasted like homemade. Remember those ice cream sandwiches for ten cents! I miss those carefree days.

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