Our best memories often arise from life's simplest events - going with family or friends to the donut shop, to Denny's, to Baskin-Robbins and on and on. More often than not, the settings for these memories were in the most routine of places, including... the local grocery store.
My name is Dave, and I grew up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1960's and 1970's. Quite a few of the suburbs, in fact, as we moved seven times within the Chicago area between 1966 and 1977. The two "constants", indeed the only major supermarket chains that have survived were Jewel and Dominick's. They were everywhere. Throw in a few National Tea stores in the early years and a couple of A&P's later on, and there you have it -my growing-up grocery experience.
Well, not quite - I had one set of grandparents in Georgia, where I got to know Winn-Dixie, and the other set of grandparents in Rhode Island, where we hit the Stop and Shop now and then and the Star Market (Gram correctly pronounced it "Stah Mahket") and the Almacs (a now defunct Rhode Island supermarket chain) with alarming regularity.
Toss in over 20 years of nationwide traveling for my job, encountering a slew of Krogers, Publixes, Ralphs and many others, and I've drawn a couple of conclusions. One, the newer stores aren't as interesting as the older ones - the unique and sometimes outlandish store designs have given way to a standarized sameness -beige walls with teal and mauve signs in way too many cases. Secondly, I've learned that some folks remember and are interested in "the way they were".
So come along, and we will look at some retail classics in the coming weeks.
To start, here is one that's close to my heart - a Jewel/Osco "Master Market" from 1965. Jewel was one of the early pioneers of the food/drug combination stores, and although the location is unknown for this photo, this prototype existed in the location that my family frequented -on Route 83 (Elmhurst Road) In Des Plaines. The store still exists, but was expanded and remodeled extensively in the mid-70's. A similar store exists on Plum Grove Road in Palatine. This store was also expanded around the same time, but it retained the basic look of the store shown here.
A year and a half after this, my first post, I received an email from Keith, who identified the pictured store's location. It is probably one I should have remembered, since we shopped there occasionally when I was young. This store was and is located on the corner of Vail and Wing streets in Arlington Heights, a northwest suburb of Chicago, and opened in 1964. It features a modified version of the original "Master Market" design, due to the fact the Chicago and North Western (now Union Pacific/Metra) railroad tracks cut across what would normally be parking space for the store. Notice the sharp diagonal on the parking rows and the fact that the store's entrance is offset to the left instead of centered, as they normally were. Jewel/Osco attempted to close the store a few years back due to its small size, but public demand convinced them to keep it open, and it now sports a unique facade and a special name - "Jewel/Osco Vail Street Market". Also note the water tower in the distant background, which was located on the Arlington Park Racetrack property. In the 70's, the water tower sported the track's stylized horse and jockey logo, which I recall. I'm not sure the water tower still exists, though. Thanks to Keith for this information!