In the 1930's there were no supermarkets.
The term had not even been invented and shopping was much different
than it is today. There were small (by today's standards) stores
at which one bought groceries, other stores were meat markets, fish
markets and bakeries.
On Bergen Street, just east of Lyons Avenue where there was a bank,
was a commercial zone in which was included the A & P grocery. In
this store customers approached a counter which ran the depth of
the building. Behind it were shelves stacked with groceries. As
the customer recited his needs a clerk would reach for the item
and place it on the counter. He used a long pole with a grip at
one end to select from the high upper shelves. When the order was
complete the clerk totalled the cost with a stubby pencil on a paper
bag and mentally added the figures. They used no adding machine
or computer and there was no "checker".
Next door to the A&P was a bakery which emitted a delightful smell.
Among the various baked goods was a paper container known as a Charlotte
Russe made of lady fingers cookies and lots of whipped cream. No
thoughts yet of cholesterol!
A bit further east there was a butcher shop where meat and both
butchered and live chickens were sold as well as sometimes fish.
I can still remember that some of those chickens carried unborn
eggs that cooked hard in homemade soup. Most came complete with
feathers which meant that the chicken had to be "plucked" until
few if any pinfeathers remained.
Ice cream and penny candies were sold in the "candy store" which
also sold newspapers, magazines, and sundries, non-perscription
remedies. It is clear that the purchase of what is available today
in one supermarket required visits to several individual shops.
It was perhaps more difficult, but there were compensations. There
was a familiarity in those stores. The clerks knew the customers
by name and in turn the customers had their favorite clerks with
whom they always dealt. There were far fewer products and choices,
but there was a friendliness that began to disappear when the supermarket
drove those stores out of business while consolidating options.