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Commentary Detail

Grocery Store
Commentary by: Bob Archibald
Aired June 17, 2010

Every picture tells a story, and every story becomes a part of our own.

The 1907 St. Louis City Directory lists over two thousand Grocers. From Abbetmeier to Zwibelman, most of these grocers lived above their stores, knew their customers by name, and worked long days in a modest but satisfying career.

One of those stores was the George Wackerlin Grocery, on Broadway and Hickory. A photograph shows George, behind his counter, surrounded by paper-wrapped packages neatly stacked and tied with string. The shelves are crammed, the floor stacked with crates and baskets of produce. The glass cases show an abundance of wares that I can't quite identify in the shadowy print.

I can identify with the store ó not Wackerlin's on Broadway, but Andriacchi's in my hometown on Michiganís Upper Peninsula. In the early 50s I knew that store from enforced shopping trips with my mother. The string dispenser just above Wackerlin's counter was a twin of the one at Andriacchi's. Theresa Andriacchi always wrapped my mother's packages with the same neat symmetry I see in the St. Louis picture. I can't claim the neighborhood store on South Broadway as part of my own story; the building itself was razed even before I was born. The stories I see in the picture of Wackerlin's, the tales embedded in the landscape of St. Louis have become part of my own as I have become a St. Louisan.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Bob Archibald

Bob Archibald


Bob Archibald is the President of the Missouri Historical Society

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