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Long Gone

December 10, 2017

“One Euro” Shop, Amsterdam, Holland, Author Bo Basil (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The Five and Ten Cent Store on the Main Street of my childhood is long gone.

Offering for sale handheld fans, kitchen towels, pots and pans, packaged seeds, ironing boards, safety pins, and small gadgets of all kinds, the Five and Ten was a place to buy aprons, doilies, string, utility candles, decals, coloring books, school supplies, penny candy, and the buttons to match a favorite blouse.

Slinky’s and Yo-Yo’s

I remember the Five and Ten had a dry smell, the aroma of aged wood and spices shipped in tins from far off lands.  It supplied the cotton dresses for summers without air conditioning, the rick rack for curtains in the extra bedroom, and the patterns for party frocks made lovingly by hand.

The Five and Ten in its heyday had all the household objects now difficult to find, plus a few low-tech delights for children.  These included hula hoops, Spalding “high-bounce” balls, Slinky’s, yo-yo’s, roller skates, Mr. Potato Heads, Paddle-Balls, and many other toys I have forgotten.

A Lynchpin

More than a mere discount store, however, the Five and Ten was a lynchpin of the community.

A visit there was an adventure for those under the age of 10, an embarrassment for teens unwilling to discuss their personal lives with elderly staff, and a chance for adults to catch up on the latest neighborhood news.

A Lost Sense of Community

A “mom and pop” clothing store once stood adjacent to the Five and Ten, and a bakery across the street, with lines out the door Sunday mornings after church.  These have long gone, too.  Baked goods today come in sealed packages from Sara Lee and Entenmann’s.

While I realize we cannot turn back the clock, I wonder why we have lost a sense of community in the years since, and whether that can ever be recovered.


Certainly, the culture has changed immeasurably.  Still, I cannot help but believe that the human heart yearns for connection.

  • We see that in the blood drives, the donations, the acts of heroism, and the thousands of volunteers when disasters strike – natural and man-made.
  • We see it in the response to marvels like a solar eclipse.
  • We see it, perhaps most strikingly, in the array of devices we have invented to communicate with one another.

Technology – however sophisticated – cannot take the place of connection.  We need to know there is someone on the other end of our smartphones who genuinely cares about us.

Which brings us to the best possible connection of all, our connection with God.  Christ said:

” ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’ “ (John 15: 5).

Our relationship with Christ is a matter of spiritual life and death.  Unlike Five and Ten Cent Stores, it will never go out of style and never fade from memory.  Not even when everything else is long gone.


  1. A beautiful post Anna. I especially like the ending. I have found Pennsylvania Dutch (which is not really Dutch) places, especially markets that still have a strong sense of local community. But much has changed there too. Peace to you.

  2. As a young boy I often went to town on Saturday morning with my dad and eventually we would end up at the five and dime store. Ours had an old style soda fountain where a lot of people would gather to talk. To a kid, it sure seemed to be the place to be, plus they served French fries there!

    To your point Anna, it’s so true that we have been created to need relationships and connections in our lives. How wonderful that our Heavenly Father reaches out to us with love in order to fill any relational voids we may be dealing with.

  3. Great post Anna! It brought back memories.. I’m in my 40’s and it seems things have changed so quickly.. Thank God He never changes 🙂

  4. A beautiful post, dear Anna! ⭐ I do miss these old and small stores, too. Very much!! :-/

    I need to admit that I had to grin while reading, not because of your writing, but just because of this sentence,

    “Baked goods today come in sealed packages from Sara Lee and Entenmann’s.”

    Funny coincidence, our daughter Sarah really loves to bake and my hubby’s coworker Mr. Entenmann truly loves eating cakes. XD

    Much love to you,
    Susanne ❤ ❤ ❤

  5. Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
    Great thoughts here from Anna. Comments closed here; blessings and enjoy!

  6. Beautifully nostalgic, Anna. This takes me back, although I am not American. But it reminds me of kinder times here in the UK and that marvellous sense of community which seems all but gone. Your message regarding connection is not lost on me and I was struck by your observation: “We see it, perhaps most strikingly, in the array of devices we have invented to communicate with one another”. – That really made me think.

    • Thank you, Marie. I know I sound as if I were 100 years old. I just feel so acutely what was lost. Technology unquestionably has an important role to play in today’s world. For one thing, it is saving lives that in “days gone by” would have been cut short. For another, it is facilitating communication across the globe at lightning speed. But technology is no substitute for genuine human contact…for friendship of the kind we have, even at long distance. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • You don’t sound as if you were 100 years old – more like 99! ha ha. Seriously though, there are pros and cons to almost everything, Anna and I more than anyone know and appreciate that without technology I would be missing the great friendship that we have – ahh, but I still long for those days when we still relied on handwritten letters (amongst other antiquated things), and those moments of anticipation waiting for a letter to arrive in the post – but I love email too … ❤ ❤ ❤

      • I am an inveterate letter writer, as the kids I’ve mentored over the years can attest. So your comment speaks to my heart. We often dash off emails without thought to the fact that they will outlive us. But letters are an act of love. I expect I will keep writing them till I really am doddering (LOL).

  7. Amazing post, Anna. Your comment about emails outliving us is a nice reminder that we should be careful what we write.
    As you pointed out, the best connection is the one that will never go away, the love that the Messiah has for us. At the end of the day, that is all we’ve got. Thanks for sharing!

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