Charles Dickens wrote, "It is good to be
children sometimes, and never better than
When I was a little girl, I lived in Auburn
and one of my loveliest memories is my visits to the Cox
Variety Store. As an adult, 'if I am in Auburn at Christmas I
visit there and if I am away I walk down each aisle in my
memory, clearly seeing each treasure in its place. The china
dolls with sparkling eyes, cardboard paper dolls and coloring
books a plenty. On the shelves above the counter the whole
animal kingdom lived.
The store 'was always child-friendly. Mr.
and Mrs. Cox were always ready to answer a question or hand
down some treasure from a high shelf a child wanted to see. As
soon as school was out the store was full of boys and girls,
with school bags, stopping for candy. As busy and crowded as
the store became there was never one child rushed or hurried
along. We took our time choosing what we would buy with our
dime, or on the rare occasion a quarter. There were dozens of
different candies and gum. Mr. and Mrs. Cox seemed to
understand that choosing among all of these was difficult and
that major decisions were in progress.
I remember my first visit to Bowling Green.
The big stores with long aisles and two floors, seemed
gigantic. I was scared stiff when I bumped into a mannequin,
never having seen one before. In these stores one had to hold
the hand of an adult and the key phrase was "Do Not Touch." On
my trip home from Bowling Green that day, I gave my first day
in the big city considerable thought I decided that we had at
Mrs. Cox's store all the items in two aisles that took up two
floors in the big stores in Bowling Green, and also I could be
on my own with no "Do Not Touch" signs about. Arriving home, I
immediately went next door and made my feelings on the matter
known to my best friend, Gertrude Hadden. She smiled knowingly
and said she though I had learned a lot that day.
When Christmas approached the variety store
became a paradise. There was never more than a dollar to be
spent, so it was imperative to decide wisely. In that magical
sphere, I bought with much care and deliberation, all my
Christmas gifts. Eventually, of course, I fell prey to the
ailment most teenagers have, growing pains. I became too
sophisticated for variety stores. The big department stores in
Nashville claimed me. The elevators, escalators and Harvey's
was the place for me.
While I grew away, the store I had loved
did not change, or go away, I'm thankful to say. In time I
found as do most young people that, growing up is more
important than growing away.
In my travels, over these many years, in
the U.S. and abroad, never have I found the quiet dignity and
welcome that envelopes you when you open the door and the bell
jingles at Cox's Variety Store.
My wish for every child in Auburn and
elsewhere is that there will always be a Cox Variety Store,
and that at Christmas there would be a sleigh, red wagon and
china doll in the window; ladies buying boxed handkerchiefs
and towels; and best of all a little girl dawdling over a
bracelet or a gold heart on a chain, believing in dreams.