Saying goodbye to the memory of what used to be

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I’m a Kansan who grew up in Wichita when my dad wasn’t assigned by Boeing to be tech support for a variety of planes elsewhere–mainly the B-52 in Air Force towns followed after a stint of retraining in Renton, Washington in 1965-6 by the 747 and a new focus on commercial airlines in Los Angeles. I’ve lived a lot of places in-between, due to the constant moves of a tech rep family and my own as a corporate wife and later, a move to Ohio for graduate school followed by what may be my last move ever to a tenure-line job in Springfield, Missouri. Headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas, Dillons was the grocery of my childhood and my children’s too, and part of what made Bowling Green, Ohio bearable was the presence of Kroger–not the same as Dillons but sharing the same generics, a few other items, and the general floor plan.

This is more than about low prices for me. Dillons even figured in a small way in my decision to accept the position at Missouri State. We drove past a Dillons on the way to the airport and it seemed to clinch things. I’ve shopped Price Cutter before, so I guess I’ll be fine. I also know that over the long run their prices are higher, so there’s that too. I lived in a duplex across from Glendale High the year before I bought my house and was very close to the Price Cutter at Battlefield and I-65. It is a great Price Cutter, possibly the best, and has a very good organic section and and an ethnic foods section large enough to have subcategories. I quickly found that my food budget was rising though, and I counterbalanced it by shopping at Walmart or Target once a month for basic items. However, there’s something about being able to get everything I want in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable price. A superstore can’t do that–by design, a shopper must pass through most of the store to get to the most common things to buy. At Dillons, I got superior produce and could still finish a full shopping trip in under an hour including travel time both ways.

We have a lot of grocery stores in Springfield now, and I guess I could try the Harter House on Sunshine and I-65, but the truth is that it’s more of a drive that I’m willing to do during the semester. If the Dillons on National is converted to Price Cutter, I’ll be giving it a try and wishing it was Whole Foods, the one store we don’t have here. I shopped at Hy-Vee when I lived in the Kansas City area, but don’t have the patience for it anymore. It’s too darn big, too full of restaurants and sundries. This may seem like a small thing surrounded by large whining, and I suppose it is. But so much of my childhood and my children’s childhood happened in that background that I can’t get over it easily.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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