Owning and managing a grocery store is not a job, it is a life. Your days and nights are consumed with choosing the best produce, quality meats, the freshest breads. Hiring and maintaining a well-skilled butcher is challenging; your competitors constantly seek out and steal away the best of the best.

But none of the daily grinds of buying, selling and managing contend with the nail-biting spying of pickpockets; especially the well-dressed, tea-sipping kind.

Hazel had, should we say, a slip-of-the-hand habit. Though financially comfortable in life, she loved a bargain, especially the ones for free. And for some odd reason, Hazel found many good deals as she grocery shopped at Old Mr. Smith's neighborhood store. Of course she never imagined her stashing and swiping as stealing. She just assumed if the items looked interesting then they begged to be sampled and surprisingly, her big purse held a lot of samples.

Catching hot-handed bandits in grocery stores involved a keen eye by store owners in mid-twentieth century. It was an era before cameras and computerized laser eyes buried inside doorways. The Mr. Smiths of the small town grocery stores had to stay one step a head of the high-heeled larcenists, even if that meant hiding behind stacks of Coca Cola bottles in order to spy the thieves. And Hazel's little habit kept Mr. Smith sneaking and hiding and spying for years.

So what does a small town grocer do with such thievery? Call Barney Fife and have high-heeled Hazel hauled to jail?

No. The mid-twentieth century grocer patiently kept a running tab of Hazel's extra loot, occasionally passed to her son for payment. A silent agreement made and delivered in a time in America when Andy Griffiths were sheriffs and local families owned grocery stores and Hazels were allowed to play out their eccentricities. A time of small town innocence; an era that died with black and white televisions, soda jerks and Aunt Bea.

New Years bring hope and renewal but our family history keeps us anchored. Holidays bring families together providing an opportunity for sharing and reminiscing of family stories, which is how I learned of my Aunt Hazel's secret grocery tab. So secret, even she didn't know about it!

I have peeled into my family history during the last year and made remarkable discoveries. I took lineages deeper and realized a couple of my own research mistakes. And I have learned more stories of the ancestors of my childhood. It has been a good year for genealogists and I expect even greater possibilities for the years to come.

Like everything else, blogs mature, change and evolve and I expect this blog to change during the next year. With this mind, I have decided to open my blog to visitors while publishing my own stories monthly. If you would like to write about a new genealogical website you stumbled across or a research tip that helped you uncover an ancestor or perhaps you would like to write your own family story, then send me an email at: Cheryl@searchingforgrandfathers.com. Attach your well-written, 500 word or less story to the body of the email and if it is appropriate for this blog, then you may see your story in print.

Have a wonderful New Year and keep searching for answers,




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