My family doesn’t travel very often and by extension, I don’t travel often either, but with the trips I have taken, I’ve learned one thing. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the globe to have a life changing or eye opening experience; in fact, such an experience could be just five minutes down the road. Every summer my grandma comes to visit and we visit the general store in the small town of Mesopotamia, Ohio. The End of the Commons General Store lies on the outskirts of the second largest Amish population in Ohio and the fourth largest in the United States. It is in an area of Northeast Ohio, where it’s more common to see a horse and buggy on the road. Sometimes it looks like time has stood still for the past century or two.
I don’t really remember my first few trips to the store, perhaps it was because I was too young to see the value of it. Only now in the past summer have I really begun to realize the memories that the General Store holds, but not only to local residents but also to anyone who walks through the battered wooden door. When I first walked in with my grandma it was hard to believe what I was seeing, everything was old but new at the same time.
A wall to the left of the door was filled with pop of every color and flavor imaginable, some I had seen before and knew well such as Coca-Cola and Faygo, but most I had never heard of. It left me in a state of wonder. There were aisles upon aisles of candy; many of them not something you’d find in the candy aisle of grocery stores. Along the back wall runs a counter displaying hand-dipped ice cream and homemade fudge of various flavors. Shelves full of bulk foods and baking supplies filled another portion of the store while another part contained kitchenware and hardware. It was a lot to take in at first; even more when walking through caused a sense of nostalgia to settle over.
It seemed at every corner there was something to bring forth a flood of memories. Even just going through a few candy aisles and seeing a pack of clove-flavored gum had my grandma telling me, stories of how her father would always come home chewing that particular brand. Even I couldn’t help but get lost in the stories as well as my own memories, after coming across candies that I hadn’t seen for at least 10 years.
Of course, there was certainly more than a small pack of gum that caused a fond smile to settle over my grandma’s face. She was already starting to tell more stories of how she remembered a certain brand of soap she had spotted on a shelf. Or how she used to make homemade noodles like the ones they sold in bags there. Our trips to the general store became less about the old memories and more about making new ones.It’s surprising to think that a small store like End of the Commons General Store in what most consider the middle of nowhere could have such an impact on my life. Those five-minute away trips allowed me to really get to know my grandma, in a way that I don’t think other trips could.
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