Of course I'm guessing at what year this was, because no doubt it was over a few years when we were all kids and we lived in Washington, in Vancouver. I was probably six or seven or eight, or nine or ten. These were the days when we had but one car and my father worked at the Veterans Hospital and my mother took care of us all, all five kids.
Taking care of us also meant carting us around wherever she had to go, which meant taking us along in the summers (when we were not in school) when she went grocery shopping. No doubt it must have been hard having all of us in tow as she went down the aisles buying food, which is why at times she let us all stay in the car and wait for her.
We shopped at a store called the Pay-N-Take-It. She would also buy milk separately at what we called, simply, The Milk Store. But The Milk Store was like a little drive through place and we kids would always beg her to buy chocolate milk, which she, at times, certainly did . . . Anyway, the Pay-N-Take-It: we would sit in the car, which was a station wagon. Five kids--three boys and one girls--ranging in ages from maybe ten to three or so. maybe she took my younger brother in with her, but I recall the car being full of us.
I doubt these days people would leave their brood in a car while they went in shopping. It would be frowned upon, if not viewed as exactly criminal. But there we were, sitting in the car, all windows down, five of us (or maybe four) and, kids being kids, we saw it as a great adventure. Well, maybe not adventure exactly but certainly an opportunity to laugh and talk and yell at people . . . I believe the main instigator of this was my oldest brother. Anyway, we would joke around and watch people come and go, comment on them and then, at times yell at them, or make strange and deliberate noises or even--if I recall right--yell for help in a mocking way. Well, not mocking but shrilly and ridiculously. It was great fun. I'm sure my mother would have been greatly embarrassed.
But them one time, as we were yelling and hooting and calling for assistance, one oldish man looked at us and began to approach us. This caused great alarm and consternation and twittering among us. And sure enough, this guy came right up to our open windows. We thought we were to be scolded and certainly had no true fear beyond that.
But he did not scold us. He only had a question about something--some decal or license plate matter about some place (probably something to do with South Dakota, I'd guess). I don't remember what it was, but he was friendly and humorous, as it turned out. Harmless. More harmless than us.
This is of course nothing important. Just a memory when we, when I was, were kids, when the family was the world and my mother and father were the great arbitrators of that world. We had no sense of how vulnerable life could be--which was just as well, which I would hope for all children, all childhoods. I doubt very much the Pay-N-Take-It exists--no, it could not. No doubt there's a Walmart or some such there now, or nothing at all.