A Verse For Each Sale

(Another of the stories I love)

Pete Stewart owned one of those great old country ‘general’ stores.  From the wood front porch with it’s Coke ice chest filled with ice covered almost frozen, cokes, R.C. Cola’s, Orange Crush, Grape bet, Pop Cola, Double Cola and Root Beer to the old glass topped hand operated gas pump.

The Colonial Bread screen door slammed with the ringing of a bell when you let it go as you enter the dimly lit interior filled with all a family would need.

In the back near the table, most always filled with men and their checkers and domino, was the great round of ‘Rat Cheese’ large tube of rag bologna, shelves packed with crackers, Vienna sausage, beanie Winnies, and a great open barrel of floating dill pickles.

It was the place to be when the weather was too bad to get in the crops, at lunch time, and when you just needed to stay awhile with other folks.

Pete also had one other great tradition that thrilled the men who made this their ‘club’. When he would make a sale, and punch it into the old cash register, pull the handle and make the bell ring as the drawer would open a hush would come over the store for as soon as the customer walked away Pete would quote a scripture verse of his choosing.

The first customer on this day was an old couple who struggled to walk to the counter where the wife wanted to purchase a spool of thread. Pete opened several drawers containing blue thread and then climbing to the top shelf on the attached ladder he found the drawer with just the right color of blue for the dear lady. She was thrilled with her choice gave him the nickel and the store grew quiet as Pete ‘rang’ up the sale and said as they left, “Honor your mother and father that your days on earth may be long.” A wonderful sigh could be heard from the rear of the store and the men returned to fixing the problems of the world.

Next came three small children each with a penny and all anxious to spend it wisely on one of Pete’s penny candy jars.  It took nine jars for Pete to satisfy the mixed craving of the kids but each smiled with their penny candy choice and again the store grew quiet as Pete punched in the three cent sale, turned the handle for the ringing of the bell and the opening of the drawer, then said as the three left the store, “Suffer the little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The men returned to their problem solving and broke only with the squalling of brakes as a fancy truck pulling a shinny new horse trailer came to a stop in the front of the store.

The driver rushed in and before the door could slam and the bell ring he said, “Mr. I am on my way to a horse show and I have forgotten the blanket for my horse would you have one I could purchase?”  “Certainly”, Pete replied and went to the back room where he kept the blankets picking the one off the top of the stack and returning to the counter where he placed it down and said that would be $3.95. “No sir”, the man said, “this is a fine horse and I need a better blanket.”  “I understand” Pete replied and went back to the store room, pulled a blanket, still in it’s plastic cover, from the middle of the stack and brushed off the dust as he returned to the waiting horseman. “I think this is more your taste.” Pete said, “That will be $19.95.”

“Better”, the customer said, “But understands this is a prize winning horse got something a little nicer?  “Now I understand Pete said as he went to the storage room took the blanket from off the bottom of the stack, removed it from the bag and folded it nicely across his arm returning to the waiting customer.

“I believe I found it.” Pete said presenting it to the horseman in a very formal manner. “This one is a bit high at $79.95 but it’s my finest.”

“That’s it, that is it.” said the customer.

With that the store became as silent as death for all the men knew what Pete had done and were anxious for the coming scripture verse.

The old cash register clanged as seldom were so many keys used and the bell seemed to ring louder as the register door hurried to open.  Then as the excited horseman left the store all could hear as Pete said, “He came unto me a stranger and I took him in.”

From a story told to me by E.D. Miller in 1973.  O course I embellished it a bit.

Ivan N. Raley



124 Oak St. Byrdstown, TN 38549

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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