Horner”s Corner

by Kathy Wagenknecht

My mother’s parents lived on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas, at the far end of one of the main streets in town, Strong Ave, just past 47th Street. There were three small 2-bedroom houses side by side, across from an area of undeveloped woods, and then nothing but empty 2-lane road on the way out of town. But at the corner of 47th and Strong was a little grocery store, Horner’s Corner.

We never visited our grandparent for a meal without someone being sent up to Horner’s for something necessary for the meal. “Kathy, walk up to Horner’s and get a ‘something‘ (can of soup, a dozen eggs, a loaf a bread, a pack of cigarettes, always different.) And here’s dime for you and Karen to get something for yourselves.”

What a treat! All the way to the store we talked about what we’d buy: I was particularly fond of the sour cherry candy — red, round and jelley-filled. Or sunflower seeds — they lasted longer. I don’t remember what Karen got, but she made sure it wasn’t something I really liked because she liked to save and savor her treat but I ate mine as fast as I could. And if she had any left, I’d find a way to eat it too.

Of course, if it were summer, we’d instead opt for the ice cream cones sold at the dairy window next to the grocery store: a dime size for me and a nickel size for Karen so she could get both candy and ice cream. And then we’d dawdle on the way back to the house, making sure our cones were totally eaten before we got into the house or someone, my Granddad most likely, would pretend to be mad that we ate everything without leaving some for him.

The same scene played out from the time I was about 7 (old enough to walk to the store) until I was 14 and my Granddad died. Then my aunt and uncle moved in with my grandmother and going to the grocery store every time we visited was no longer required. My aunt, who had been sent to the store every day of her childhood, to hear her tell it, shopped every week. And she never seemed to require either additional ingredients or to get rid of spare change the way my grandmother had.