18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, September 9, 1913: Went to Watsontown this afternoon to get some things.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
When I go shopping, the items that I want to buy determine where I go. If I just need a gallon of milk I walk to the local convenience store, but if I need to buy a week’s worth of groceries I drive to the nearest strip mall. And, if I want to buy some new clothes I head to a more distant large mall.
It was the same in Grandma’s day. She often shopped in three towns–McEwensville, Watsontown, and Milton.
McEwensville had a general store and pharmacy—and sometimes Grandma could buy what she needed there. Watsontown was a somewhat larger town and had a small shopping district. And, Milton was a little further away, but had more stores.
Grandma could have easily walked to McEwensville or Watsontown; a trip to Milton would have required to train or buggy ride.
A hundred years ago today Grandma must have needed some things that were relatively common—but not so common that the McEwensville stores would have had them; so she had to visit the medium-sized town.
An aside–Maybe the title of this post isn’t really right, since by most standards McEwensville, Watsontown, and Milton are all small towns–but in Grandma’s world she definitely would have differentiated between them and considered one small, the other medium, and the third large.