Jewel headline conjures up sweet memories

Last Friday I read with interest an article in the NWI Times about a local icon in transition. “Jewel-Osco to be sold to investment group” was the headline. Oh, darn! was my sarcastic reaction.

I was 7 or 8 when Jewel opened within a block of my family’s sundries store in Whiting, Indiana. And as I recall, it wasn’t too long before our store closed. I suppose it would have happened eventually – Lord knows I probably ate a good share of the profits – but I blame the big box grocer for closing our sweet shop.

Sandrick Sundries - one of a kind.

Sandrick Sundries – a rare gem.

Sandrick Sundries, 194? – 1963 – was a Whiting icon in its time. Located on the main thoroughfare between Chicago’s east side and East Chicago, Indiana, my dad’s store served up so many sundries – from aspirin to toy trucks, sundaes to garbarge-can Cokes, bowling shirts to baseball bats, cameras to snuff. You name it, we had it. Even stamps, milk and hot roasted nuts. Penny candy? The Sputniks are good or would you like Mary Janes?  Three Musketeers? Sure – frozen or not? Stewarts hot sandwiches? The cheeseburgers were good with a chocolate shake.

My brother began working the soda fountain when he turned 12. Can you imagine having your 12-year-old behind the counter today? But Jewel Tea trashed my dream of being a girl soda jerk. It’s okay, the girl and jerk parts  stuck. (Hope that mad you laugh. I know my brother’s laughing now.)  No career behind the counter, inspite of my apprenticeship – in the basement.

While the store took up every nook and cranny of the street-level soda shop cum camera-bowling-greeting card-and Nehi soda emporium, which literally and figuratively supported our upstairs apartment, the basement consumed many of our pre-jerk apprenticeship hours. There were empty pop bottles to rack, syrupy straws and napkins to sweep into piles and cake-cone boxes to break down before torching. It was work, but we were rewarded with Ice Cream Mondays.

I guess I’m glad Jewel will be sold – maybe to keep its name under new ownership, or be turned into some big-name super food seller. Not that I have anything against it. In fact, I’ve shopped there many times over the years – even when it was right down the street. But that recent headline reminded me of the first Jewel Tea coming to Robertsdale circa 1960, and about our sweet little sundries store. There are so-o-o many stories to tell.



5 responses to “Jewel headline conjures up sweet memories

  1. Nice story. What a picture you painted. You jostled my memories … more from adulthood. My mom loved fresh anything and didn’t want to guess what she’d have a taste for days later, so weekly shopping wasn’t an option. She shopped often, sometimes daily. When I went home for a holiday or weekend a drive to the grocery (Jewel or Dominick’s) was our first priority. Fondest memory … the day hot baguettes were coming out of the oven as we passed the bakery counter. In a microsecond I heard, “We’ll take one of those.” Though almost too steamy to eat, we tore into it while winding our way up and down the aisles. At checkout the cashier ran the half eaten loaf across the scanner. “We don’t need a bag,” mom said as she snatched the crusty treat from the mystified gal running the register. We polished it off in the car on the way home and carefully dusted the crusty crumbs from our shirts before we went inside. I don’t recall how we had room for dinner and I don’t recall caring that we didn’t dine until nine. Thanks for the trip down a be-Jeweled memory lane.

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing your memories. There is so much more to this story. You’ve gotten us started. Thanks for reading!

  2. I remember it – it was wonderful. Did not realize that Jewel was the reason it closed. And I did not know about the basement. Good stuff.

    • Thanks for your comment. Wow, the basement seemed to be central, in a “base” sort of way!, to our lives. Almost like the Softee truck! Ugh.

  3. 1946 was start up year. I preempted our brother and started working in the store when I was in 4th grade. Relieved our mom for lunch while I was home from school during my lunch break. Good recollections!

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