Mr. Uhles’ Store

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bazooka-bubble-gum-box

I honestly don’t know how Mr. Uhles put up with us.

He ran the neighborhood store that was exactly 79 steps from my best friend Steve Madden’s house on Nebraska Street.

We went there so often we wore a trail along Berry Road.

We loved his store, but we hated his asphalt parking lot. It would heat up to about a billion degrees in Oklahoma summer.

Since we were always barefoot, we’d have to hot-foot it across the “lava”, trying not to get a stubbed toe or cut on the glass from broken pop bottles.

We’d usually go to the store after we’d been playing football or baseball or basketball or kill ball in the brutal Oklahoma sun for a few hours. So we were sweaty, stinky and loud.

Mr. Uhles didn’t seem to care. But Mrs. Uhles did. And she had “the look” that said smarten up or go away.

That meant wiping the small stones and tar and glass and goatheads from our bare feet.

The storming into the store like the U.S. Marines. At least 900 times every single summer day.

Because we were boys. And Mrs. Uhless wasn’t always there.

Bazooka bubblegum, Sour Grapes and the long, thin Tootsie-Rolls were a penny.

Tootsie Roll Pops were two cents.

tootsie roll pops

I think Pixie Stix (straws filled with fruit-flavored sugar) were maybe two cents.

Baseball cards, packed with bad bubble gum, and the big Tootsie Rolls, which I could seldom afford, were a nickel.

tootsie

I’m pretty sure banana popsicles were 7 cents, and Cokes were maybe a dime.

We made our summer money by collecting Coke bottles that had been chucked out of cars driving down Berry Road or discarded along the bike paths going up to Cleveland Elementary School.

coke_21

I think Mr. Uhles gave us two cents credit per bottle!

We found a LOT of bottles, so it wasn’t that hard to keep a good sugar high going most of the summer.

Another revenue stream presented itself a couple of years later when my hot older sister was in high school.

Her boyfriend was absolutely thrilled to give me a quarter so I’d get OUT of the house and let them *study.

Man, armed with a quarter, Steve and I would blast up to Uhles on our Stingray bikes, throw them down in the parking lot, and battle each other to be first in the door.

And then we’d usually be ordered right back out by Mrs. Uhles to move our bikes off to the side, next to the ice machine.

Then Steve and I would get all likkered up on Sweat Tarts and Sugar Babies and Dr Peppers and Fudgecycles and Pixie Sticks and Salt Water Taffy and big ol’ Bubble Gum ceegars and Candy Cigarettes.

bubblegum cigars

It’s a wonder we didn’t come down with juvenile diabetes.

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*Dear Sis. Study? Exactly how stupid did you think I was?




6 Responses to “Mr. Uhles’ Store”

  1. Julie Nees Seagraves says:

    I had similar experiences at McHughes’ Food Center over on Flood Street. Mom would send me up to get her a pack of Tareyton cigarettes and then i had enough change to buy a little something. Fun times

    • hams says:

      Hi Julie, I made more than a few ciggy runs for my folks to Mr. Uhles’ store, as well.

    • Nancy Webb Keim says:

      Hi Julie Nees Sea graves!
      Yes the memories of West Hughbert St., the vacant lot (which is full of three houses now & no pear trees or grape vines) & McHughes groceries! I rode my bike to the store many times for mom.

      • hams says:

        Imagine. We road bikes. And talked to people. And never went indoors in the summer until dark thirty. No cellphones or video games in sight. T’was a better time. And Mr. Uhles was a great man in my book.

  2. Sherri Uhles says:

    Thank you so much for this walk down memory lane!! I never had the pleasure of knowing Grandad Uhles, he passed before I was in the family. Cronie, (Mrs Uhles) however was my favorite person in the whole wide world!! I am blessed to be a part of such an amazing family, thank you for reminding me of that fact!!

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