Monday, November 4, 2013

Life with Fred and Lucy, Part Three: Spying 101

                                                     Lucy &  Fred                            

When I was around 11 years old, a supermarket had opened several blocks from our store. It was called the A&P. That bit of news sent shock waves throughout the area. For women shoppers, it was a bigger store featuring more items at a lower cost than the neighborhood grocery stores were able to provide. To the owners of small grocery stores, it was life or death situation, which required immediate action. Fred declared war on the A & P!
First Fred had to find out what the other stores were charging for their Italian lunch meats, dairy items, and breads. This called for a strategic gathering of information. It called for well-trained spies.
                                     MI6 Agents: Lucy, Michael, Marie and Jane

Fred sent my mother to the A & P to check on their prices. We had nothing to fear, at least when it came to the luncheon meats. My dad bought the highest quality meats; the new store did not. But the A & P sold everything in one place and that wasn’t good.
So Fred began to stock up on everything from aspirins, to ladies’ nylons, to comic books; you name it, he had it. But he was still worried about the prices of his neighborhood competitors. Thus was born Fred’s junior spy brigade.
                                         Fred's spies on their get away wagon
Fred had my sister Jane and I dress up in disguises. We went shopping for certain items at the other grocery stores. Our disguises fooled no one. It was embarrassing. Luckily for us, the two sons of a competitor's store kept our secret on my sister and my trips to buy food. They never ratted us out. Want to know why?
Their dad had them doing the same thing. There were four grocery stores within walking distance to each other and all the kids were being used as spies in order to keep tabs on the competitors prices. Eventually, all the junior spies made a deal to cash in on all this counter intelligence work we were ordered to do by our parents. We kids (the spies) began lying about the price of the food in order to buy candy with the extra cash. The candy was shared between all the kids involved with the spying. We had a good thing going until our parents figured out what we were doing.

Fred was able to get all the grocery stores in our neighborhood to agree to a pricing method that would enable the small businesses in our part of South Philly to survive the big supermarkets that were popping up all over. Great things happen when everyone works together.
Next episode, I'll tell you about the war between Fred and the Neighborhood Pharmacy: Orange to Aspirins. 



  1. Is this really true? Who first came up with the idea to fool the adults? I was such a stupid kid. I always brought back the change from buying cigarettes for Grandma. No spying, just buying, when an adult could legally sell them to a child.

    1. Absolutely true. It was one of the other grocery store's sons. Wait till you read my next post. All my stories are true, this is how crazy my family was:)