Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Night at the Red Food Store

I dreamed about the Red Food Store the other night. The one on Ringgold Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a weird dream that featured the old familiar store with two identical Red Food Stores surrounding it. I was a little discombobulated when I woke up, as you often are when some place or person from the past suddenly pops up in the clouds of night for no discernable reason.

The Red Food Store. It didn’t sell red food. Well, I reckon it did, but it sold all the other colors, too. And it wasn’t painted red, either. In short, no clue as to why the grocery chain was called Red Food Store, but there you are.

Anyway, Friday evenings after supper, Daddy would head out to do the weekly grocery shopping, usually with one or two or all four of us chir'run in tow. See, Mother raised us to believe that going to the grocery store was a man’s job, like taking out the garbage and tinkering with cars. Daddy always seemed to enjoy doing this weekly chore, and I suppose Mother hated it, so the system worked well for them. (And wasn’t Mother clever, eh?)

So. Off we’d go on Friday evening with Daddy, wondering what little goodie we could talk him into buying. He could be a real pushover, as long as we didn’t go overboard. Fritos. Sprite. Some new-fangled cereal. And it was primo Daddy-time. He always seemed to be in high spirits – it was Friday, after all! – and we loved going with him. To the Red Food Store.

All those grocery store trips run in together, except for one. It was Friday. November 22, 1963. We got out of school early that day; once the news came that President Kennedy had been shot, well, that was that. We spent the afternoon in front of the TV set, watching the strange events unfold. I don’t remember whether Daddy came home early or not. My parents were no fans of Kennedy, but this event rocked even them.

Still, dead presidents are no excuse to break a cherished routine, I guess, and Friday night meant a trip to the Red Food Store. Maybe Mother and Daddy thought that doing something completely normal would keep us from being scared. Or maybe we just needed milk. But whatever the reason we headed for the store, as usual, on that bleak evening.

Very few people were out and about. The store was open, but empty. Everything seemed dark (well, yeah, it was late November, but even so . . .) and moving in slow motion. I can tell you that not much high-spirited stuff went on during that shopping foray. We were just going through the motions at the Red Food Store that night.

But one aberration doesn’t dampen the memory of all the other Friday nights, all the other jaunts to the Red Food Store on Ringgold Road in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with Daddy and the little Fraziers picking up the week’s necessities while choosing a few special treats.

And I’m remembering all that, as I sit here in New York City on a Friday evening, thanks to a strange little dream. (Though I do wonder about the meaning of the extra stores.)


Em said...

What a nice routine you had with your dad. And it is interesting that dreams can help us recall such times.

Anonymous said...

Mary- Although they have been Bi-Lo for several years, my wife and I still call them "Red Food". I remember going there with my Mother, I still go there because Julia hates to grocery shop , and we still have to eat. I always knew your Dad was an easy touch...JMB

Winston said...

Never heard of Red Food stores. They didn't come on up into Tennessee. Interesting and different kind of deal there with your dad and the grocery shopping. As far as the extra stores in the dream, I dunno. Maybe you should talk to the doc about increasing your medz.

Dewey said...

I'm not from Tennessee, but I remember them all over the place in Chattanooga. My wife would shop at the one on Hixson Pike close to her parents' house.

Liz said...

What great memories to have. As for the extra stores, perhaps you are foreseeing a great Red Food Store revival ... hallelujah, sister!

MaryB said...

Em - yes, it's those little routine things that make for great memories, eh?

Jay - I did read where Bi-Lo bought out Red Food. Ah, well. Progress. And Julia sounds like Mother's kind of gal!

Winston - Red Food Stores were just a Chattanooga phenom, I believe, as was its rival M&J (Mulkey & Jackson) Grocery.

Dewey - I remember the one on Hixson Pike!

Liz - Ooooh, a Red Foods revival! A big "AMEN!" to that!