The cart

FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, November 21, 2002
Perhaps any society is best defined by the elements within that society that are taken for granted.
We had our hockey teams from Watson Lake Yukon on a long road trip down to Smithers and only a few of the players on our teams had ever seen a train. As the bus rumbled along one boy spotted a couple of box cars on a siding and asked a coach what they were. The coach explained what they were and that trains of up to a mile long would be hauled across the prairie. the boy of about thirteen looked at his coach and said in utter disbelief. “no way.”
We all take things for granted, things that are part of our lives and our environment those things often never spoken of or considered important are at that point an intrinsic part of our lives.
The shopping cart is perhaps a good example of this incorporation of a thing into our lives that defines us, our life style and our behaviour.
I remember the first ones we saw and the novelty of going into the city to shop and using a cart to put our coats, and the items we purchased into this contraption was interesting. In the towns and villages of Saskatchewan there were no shopping carts. Most of the grocery stores up until the mid fifties involved a counter. You went to the counter and someone “waited” on you. You had your shopping list and they got the items you wanted. It was about 1953 or 54 that some stores began putting the items out where you could access them and select them for yourself.
The first store of this kind I saw was Wilson’s in Wawota iin 1951. Mr. Wilson was an aggressive store keeper and his store was one where you would walk around and select things. But in our village of Kelso Gerry Bonner maintained his general store in the traditional manner.
A “self server” store was a new concept and one that customers were wary of as the whole idea of impulse buying came with the concept. No longer would you shop from that carefully prepared and planned shopping list but now you could, . . . well, you could shop.
There were of course some pitfalls to the self serve concept. Without thinking George McClement our Co-op manager in Langbank put out the magazines one day including the first edition of a new magazine called Playboy. A few hours later that day, his son Morris told Billy and me about Marilyn Munroe and we dashed in to see “all” of Marilyn Munroe with a red background and Billy and I were speechless, but Donalda, George’s wife, had more than a little to say to us and to George about that as we were sent scurrying from the store.
With self serve came the shopping cart, the basic design has been about the same since those early ones in Wilson’s store even though the aisles were to narrow for them. The big innovation was the floppy back that allowed them to be parked into one another and the tray on the bottom to handle a big bag . The leg holes for children is a relative recent modification to the design and you often see them now even with children’s seat belts.
Though a company has been making plastic carts we just haven’t seen them around here but as long as the one level self serve shopping complex exists the cart is here to stay.
I understand the concept of interchangeable bicycles has even been tried in Europe. If we truly smartened up we might see town and city cars that we would hope in and use just like a cart. Available to all and completely interchangeable.
That brings to mind the coin cart which is definitely the bigest step backward in this progressive development of a handy dandy means of getting consumer goods and transporting them to your car. Coin carts have reduced the work load and hence the number of employees for retail outlets but they also seem to have a less than positive attitude. I have noticed that coin carts seem to be more prone to bad wheel aliignment and abuse.
What else do we take for granted that tells us about ourselves. Send me your list.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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