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Poetic Day 5 of National Poetry Month, 2019

April 5, 2019


Poetic Day 5 of National Poetry Month:  April 5, 2019


With my poetic plan of posting each April weekday a new poem and five prompts, the following poem-of-the-day and five prompts will close the first week of National Poetry Month (NPM) on WORDWALK.  Although I will not be posting during the weekends of April, I do hope you will return to WORDWALK on Monday and throughout the upcoming second week of NPM.  Please remember the motto for NPM:


“Read a poem!  Write a poem!  Share a poem!”


In the Days before Plastic


poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa


At my grandparents’ store on the top of the hill,

one of the more commonly heard phrases was:

“Put it on my bill.”

Without comment or hesitation,

the bill was tallied

with nothing for the till.


Placing groceries on the bill

was never a question

because we knew all the customers

and knew most would eventually pay

without an urge or mention.

In those days when plastic was unknown

and checks were relatively rare,

I never felt, in the family store,

any financial tension.


However, To the right of an enamel white scale

and pass-through of the long north counter,

to the left of the one wooden cash register

was an oversized Rolodex-type file

of ten-by-twenty-inch metal plates,

on each of which were ten strong clips

for holding bills that would be paid after a while.


As a child in the two-story building

that was one of three grocery stores of our small town,

I recall infrequently hearing,

“I’ll pay a little on my bill on Friday.”


Before plastic, before Walmart, before Amazon–

there once were precious small towns

with grocery stores owned

by local, caring folks.


Those days were buried with my ancestors,

but pieces of memories poetically live on.


* * *




  1. Write a poem focusing on small-town living of decades ago.
  2. Write a poem about a unique shopping experience.
  3. Write a poem about the oldest person whom you know on your family tree.
  4. Write a poem in which you mention or describe an old piece of equipment (such as a wooden cash register).
  5. Write a poem in which Friday plays a significant part.



With a poetic or dramatic pause until Monday,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


April 5, 2019, Friday

Thanks for reading this piece and honoring its copyright.




From → Uncategorized

  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–Thanks for this trip down memory lane. There is a hardware store in a nearby very small town where farmers and others in the middle of a repair job would dash in, tell the owner what they needed, and it would be put on their bill. Unfortunately, the owner, a very feisty lady, just retired and the store has only a few items, marked off 75% left. So many of us are so sad to see it go.

    • Hi, Sue–Thanks for sharing this information about another door closing on what we once knew as “small-town living.”

      Enjoy this warmer weekend–Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice,
    Thank you so much for the warm memories of our remarkable grandparents and the grocery store that they dearly loved—and so did we! When I went to the store (only a short bike ride from our house), I knew that I didn’t have to worry about my bill. Grandma Store graciously offered me candy, pop, ice cream, or all three free of charge! I always took her up on her offers and have the cavities to prove it! Those days before plastic were very special.
    Love to you and Willow,

    • Mary–Thanks for adding your memories of the store which was such an important part of our childhood and daily living of the 1950s and 1960s.  I wish we had more photos to recall more clearly both the outside and inside of the store building which our maternal grandparents had built in the early 1900s.

      Take care–Alice and Willow

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