“Is that a sweet onion or a yellow onion?” the grocery store checker asked me.

“Is there a difference?” I responded.

I don’t recall when that exact conversation occurred.

Realizing that the youngster was probably not old enough to check out beer, how would anyone expect her to know the difference when there was no bar to scan?

I guarantee you my wife Kathy would have known the difference.

While still a student at Abilene High School, she would also know the difference between the 23 different types of lettuce my friend Google says exist.

Her father Joe Couture was a grocery store manager. Part of his process of training checkers was to assure that they recognize types of produce, weigh them and ring up the price per pound.

She could probably run a cash register today, even though she hasn’t been a grocery store checker since she graduated from college.

My mother Nelda in her younger days was a meat cutter at Houlton’s Market which later became Hall’s Market where Stout Service & Sales is located now.

In 1974 groceries could be bought at eight locations here in town:

• A & P, 505 N.W. Third;

• Boogaarts, 400 N. Buckeye;

• Gibbs Grocery, 1703 N. Buckeye;

• Hall’s Market, 100 N. Cedar;

• Tittel’s IGA, 418 NE 14th Street;

• West’s IGA, 418 N. Broadway;

• West’s IGA, 1901 N. Buckeye;

• Zey’s Market, 1020 W. First Street.

Mom knew a chuck from a round from a sirloin.

Suddenly, the way we buy products has rapidly changed. For those of you who thought self checkout lanes were novel, they just became history.

Now goods can be ordered online or by phone and be delivered or picked up curbside.

It would not surprise me if the drive-in theater rebounds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For me, there are certain landline phone numbers that are stuck in my head: my folks’, the post office, the school district (only because it is so simple), the NGA where I worked for many years, Greyhound Hall of fame and my mother-in-law’s phone.

As I have probably stated before, my folks who had a party line for many years only allowed us kids to talk for five minutes.

Trust me, we got scolded if we talked a second longer. I think Mom set a timer.

For those of you who don’t have a clue what a party line is, think of it as Zoom without any pictures.

You can guess that during my dating days this guy knew where every pay phone was located in Abilene.

There is maybe still one, now located in the courthouse, but it doesn’t take change, only dollar bills.

Wednesday morning I had an epiphany.

It came, of course, in a dream.

I won’t go into great detail but I was out of town at a large gathering. Must be in the future.

For some unknown reason, my vehicle had broken down.

I reached for my cell phone and it was gone. I recalled someone bumping into me and that person must have stolen it.

Believe it or not, there was a string of payphones, but only a couple worked.

When I got to the working phone, I even found money in my pocket and started to dial ... But I didn’t recall my wife’s cell phone number!

A vision into the future? Who knows! One thing for sure, the way we are used to doing things is changing.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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