As I waited in the check out line at the grocery
store the other afternoon, my thoughts wandered back to the days when I
tagged after my mother to buy groceries.
Because we still used an ice box back in the
early ‘30s, we shopped often. Maybe buying less more often is why it always
seemed like fun, not drudgery. Fewer customers and more grocery stores also
probably contributed to the ease of shopping.
With a population of less than 1,000, Tustin
had eight grocery stores. Three were located in the downtown area around the
intersection of Main and D (El Camino Real). Continental Stores, a grocery
with locations in several neighboring towns, occupied the D street side of
the one story brick building on the southeast corner of the intersection.
J.A. Dill had a meat market within the store. The building which had been
constructed in 1924 with shops extending along Main Street was later sold to
Edwin Cox who operated Cox’s Market and Tustin Food Center there for almost
F.M. Carter was the proprietor of Carter’s
Market just north of the intersection at 393 D. The space he occupied has
disappeared in the expansion and remodeling of other stores on the block,
but in 1931 it was near the middle of the block. This grocery store also had
a separate meat counter with L.A. Riehl as butcher. C.O. Artz operated Artz
Store less than a block to the west at the corner of Main and C in the
building still distinguished by its elegant facade of pillars. Rutabergorz
restaurant now occupies the site.
Several grocery stores were located in
residential neighborhood. Housewives without cars could walk to them or send
the children. Grivel’s Market, operated by Myrtle L.J. Grivel, was far from
the center of Tustin on Newport Avenue south of Mitchell. The J.W. Scheffer
family kept a small convenience market at 163 D Street between First and
First Street had three small groceries
between Yorba and D Street. Mountain View Market at 453 W. First on the
corner of Mountain View was known for its meat market. Mission Cash Grocery
and Market was at 235 First, across from the north end of the Tustin Grammar
School athletic field, now Peppertree Park. The two-story building had an
upstairs apartment for the owner and his family. Close by, J.T. Morrison
operated another neighborhood market at 385 W. First, scarcely a block from
either Mountain View or Mission Cash groceries.
These locally owned stores were nothing like
the super markets of today. They sold basic canned goods, dairy products,
bread, some produce and meat. There were no fancy baked goods, no
delicatessen counter with prepared food, no choice of “paper or plastic,” no
carts and no extras such as postage stamps or dry cleaning.
Small and simple as they were, they had many
advantages over today’s big establishments. The owners and the help knew and
cared about the shoppers and their families. Each was a friend. Service was
personal and friendly. Shopping was a social event, not a chore.