A Brief Look Back

In his short story, “A & P,” John Updike takes readers back to a time in the not so distant past in which people were expected to act with integrity and decency in everything they did. An event as simple as going to the grocery store to pick up an item or two required people to present themselves in a way that was considered decent and proper. For me, however, what really drew me into the story was the setting of the A & P grocery store. While anyone under the age of 30 may not recall this chain of grocery stores, as an adult over the age of 40, it remains an active part of my childhood memories. In reading this story, I was reminded of many wonderful memories of people from a time and a place, which I happily mentally revisited and of which I am now glad to share some of my memories.
The location of the store in Updike’s story is described as being in the middle of a town about five miles from the beach. The A & P store in my recollections was not near the beach; it was right in the middle of Gastonia, North Carolina. Its physical location would be one of the primary reasons that it would become so significant in my memories. My grandparents and I did not move to Gastonia until I was in the fifth grade; however, we frequently visited my grandfather’s brother and his wife prior to moving close to them. The trip from our home in Charlotte to their house in Gastonia seemed to take an eternity to a child who would have rather been at home playing with his friends. Making our way into Gastonia, I knew we were almost at my relative’s house whenever I would see the A & P sign as we drove down Franklin Boulevard. In order to get to my uncle and aunt’s house, we had to make a right hand turn at the A & P store and within a couple of minutes we would be there. Their house was not a fun place for a child to visit and it would seem like forever until we were finally in our car again, passing the A & P store in the opposite direction and heading for home. The…

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