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Chuck Hinman: IJMA 001 - Shoplifting story

Chuck Hinman, It's Just Me Again 001: How Mom broke the Hinman kids of shoplifting
The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - IJMA 166 : Now! Hear this! / Rick Stull

By Chuck Hinman

In the depression days of the 1930's, towns large enough to have a business district had a dime store. A dime store, also called by a variety of similar names was a variety store and from the name, the prices were dependably affordable. In those days, dime stores came under the names Ben Franklin, Kresge, Woolworth, H. L. Green, Hested, Grants and many others. They were on the order of modern day Dollar General Stores but much classier. Quite often, they boasted a very popular lunch counter. They were found in the high dollar area of the business district of any town.

Our town with a dime store was Beatrice, Nebraska. Beatrice was a big city to this 8 year old farm boy. It had the Hested 5 and 10 cent store. It attracted lots of browsers, who when asked by a sales clerk, if they could help the customer decide on an item, responded with the typical response, "No. thank you, I'm just looking."

Seventy-five years later, I don't remember anything about the layout of that Hested store, except at one of the two entrances, there was a very attractive, well lighted display counter of ladies' rings. There were scads of them in all shapes and colors of stone settings. Bear in mind this is not a jewelry store. The rings were colorful, glittery and of course, inexpensive. This is a dime store.

And my, how they caught the eye of this kid whose daily fare was not used to this kind of gaudy display! I was smitten!

While Mom was shopping a few feet away, I was content to "just look" at this display of baubles. In time, I began to think how one of those pretty rings would look on my girl friend, Georgia Pinkston. She was the daughter of the hired man for the Edwin Mack farm west of Liberty, Nebraska.

But I didn't have any money. After an inordinate amount of "just looking," I began to consider ... mmm ... you guessed it ... taking the ring without paying for it. I knew it was wrong. But my desire for THAT ring overrode my slight conviction that I was doing something wrong!

I was sitting in the back seat of the car waiting for family to come and return home when Mom discovered that her son HAD SHOPLIFTED A RING FROM HESTED STORE! I wasn't hiding it; I was admiring it!

After scolding me she hastily waltzed me back to the store! I don't remember if my feet touched the ground or not -- if so probably not more than every other step! Once in front of the jewelry counter, she firmly announced to the saleslady -- "my son has something of yours he wants to talk to you about!"

I didn't want to talk about anything, particularly a ring! I had difficulty getting started but prompted by Mom's "look" -- the words came easier than I expected -- something like "Lady, I took this ring from your store a little while ago. I did not pay for it. I did wrong and I am sorry for what I did." I handed her the ring.

I have no idea what the lady clerk said but this much I know -- THAT ended my days of shoplifting for going on 84 years!

In response to the above, my sister Jody (Hinman) English of Waverly, Nebraska responded as follows:

"Makes my experience seem not so bad, a bunch of us from my class went in to Constable's Drug Store for a coke after school. Someone ordered a root-beer float that was served with a long handled spoon. It had become the fad to bend the spoon into a bracelet. One of the guys bent it for me and I wore it home that weekend. (My sis boarded with a relative while she was going to high school in Wymore, Nebraska in the mid-'40's)

"Needless to say I was dumb enough to tell and show Mom the bracelet. Well, she didn't think that was "neat" at all and made Dad straighten it out and we all drove back to Constable's and gave it back to them and tell them I was sorry!

"So much for my so-called shoplifting" ... Jody

Written by Chuck Hinman, May 20, 2005

This story was posted on 2012-09-30 05:14:24
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