Closed on Wednesday Afternoon


Oh, how I miss the old
days of growing up in Huntington and Mansfield! 
There were only three channels on the television, at best, and Dad was
in total control when the console was turned on.  We played outside as much as possible and
made forts, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and even an occasional green
walnut or rock fight would pass the time. 
Campbell & Ranz’ Conoco filled the car with gasoline, checked the
fluids, washed windows, headlights and tail lights as fast as a Dale Earnhardt
pit crew.

Wednesday afternoons were sacred
in our small towns. At around noon places close and our slow Southern life
style would crawl to a stop. Banks, city offices, grocers, drug stores, and
feed stores would all close up and people went home. Time stopped on Wednesday
afternoons. It was just the way it was and I don’t remember thinking a thing
about it until I got older.  How did this
custom start?

I’ve read a lot about it
and there are several reasons, or so it seems. 
The first reason stores may have closed was to give families time to get
ready for church services that afternoon. 
Suppers had to be cooked and eaten, clothes ironed and baths finished,
all before the bells rang from some distant bell tower letting you know that it
was time to make the trip to your house of worship. Some believe it was because
most southern towns had Wednesday livestock auctions or it was a break in the
business week since stores were open longer on Saturday to take care of people
the day after payday.  I think it was
most likely done because people just wanted a break.

My parents told me that
the reason our stores closed was because people were supposed to take that time
to work in their Victory Gardens.  When
WWII broke out, every resource was limited to make certain our troops had
everything they needed.  Staples such as
coffee, sugar, flour and even car tires were rationed.  But food was a major thing the soldiers
needed at that time.  It’s hard to fight
Nazi’s on an empty stomach.

President Roosevelt had a
plan for empty lots and yards to be planted in garden spots for land owners or
cooperatives between neighbors.  Gardens
were everywhere and the plan was extremely successful.  When the war ended and the need for rationing
and the supplies of products were restored, some places, mostly in the south,
kept the early Wednesday shutdown going.

I remember when stores in
my hometowns started opening up on Wednesday until 5:00 pm.  It was scandalous. My mother talked as if she
would take her business elsewhere if they were to break from closing.  Slowly more and more began to open.  Now most have begun opening on Sundays as
well.  There are those who are
campaigning for alcohol to be sold on Sundays too.  Soon, that will sound funny that they ever
didn’t allow it.

I miss those lazy
Wednesday afternoons, front porch visits and kids playing in neighborhood
yards.  I miss waving at people as they
passed our house.  We waved whether we
knew them or not. There’s a lot to be said about just taking time to refresh yourself
and relax.

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