Swap Shop

Long before the phrase “appointment television” came into use, in the little house located on Route 2 in Maplesville…the house with Box 34-A atop the post standing across Highway 22 from the end of the driveway…there was “appointment radio.”

Marion W. Easterling’s early morning gospel music and funeral announcements show got the day off to a start, but at 9:00 on the dot, we all gathered at the kitchen table to listen to the Swap Shop on Station WKLF in Clanton…980 on your AM dial.

Momma got her steno pad and ink pen down off the top of the refrigerator, ready to write down a phone number that would lead to the source of any treasure that caught her or Daddy’s ear.

“Dot, write this’n down.”

“Boys, did y’all catch that’n? What’d he say – ‘nine four seven’ or ‘nine five seven?'”

If one of us had a morning appointment with Dr. Moore or Dr. Baker, before we got on the road to Clanton, Momma’d take a paper sack and put in it a quart jar of water and some peanut butter and crackers wrapped up in wax paper…somebody might want something to eat or drink before we got home.

Rest assured, though, before we pulled out of the driveway she’d make sure she remembered to stick that pad and pen in her shiny black pocketbook because we were going to listen to the Swap Shop on the car radio.

No goods were ever swapped from the Latham house, but quite a few were swapped to us…most of them in return for little or nothing.

That was pretty much all Momma and Daddy had to offer in exchange.

A few more years would pass before Momma started working for Mr. Harry at Higginbotham’s, so Daddy’s paycheck from Gulf States was it.

Lord have mercy, they knew how to stretch a dollar…and the Swap Shop helped them do it.

Over the years, our Swap Shop finds could’ve made Green Acres‘ Mr. Haney envy us.

  • canning jars and rings…both Ball and Kerr
  • a rusty green Western Auto lawn mower…used for parts
  • rolls of wire…used for the clothesline and for the garden
  • a wash tub and a foot tub…both galvanized
  • Angel’s Trumpet cuttings…mighty pretty blooms at night
  • jars of honey…comb and all
  • cane poles…great stakes for pole beans and running butter beans

I reckon I didn’t realize what we didn’t have, so I didn’t appreciate the value of those Swap Shop sundries as a young boy…I don’t suppose many children would’ve.

Looking back on it, I get it.

I appreciate Momma and Daddy’s frugality prompted by necessity.

I reckon more than that, though…I appreciate the value and the comfort in the routine of my family as we listened to the Swap Shop.

Steve Latham – May 13, 2017

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