British author LUTHER STEWART here concludes the discussion of his adventures in a Florida supermarket, which he began in the June ATLANTIC.


As you read these lines, a supermarket in Florida is almost certainly giving away free of charge, at the rate of, say, one every fifteen seconds, an aluminum-plated bulletproof cherry pitter or some like object, and my only regret is that I shall not be around to claim mine. I have been away from Florida for some months, but I still cannot help wondering, as with a woman one has loved and lost, what the supermarket is giving away now.

On my first encounter with the market, I remember that I shook hands with an elephant in a checkered-cloth hide. The man thus decked out represented, I was told, a firm which gives away little trading stamps to all the citizenry passing through the turnstiles. I had, naturally, thought that he was selling elephants.

It was not until my next visit that I embarked upon the great spatula campaign which consolidated my relationship with the supermarket. At this distance, I feel a bit squeamish about exposing the whole sequence of events. But confession is good for the subconscious, they tell me, and truth will out. Be it known, then, that the market held me in thrall by means of a spoon with holes in it.

I had returned to the market with my hosts two days after our initial visit, in order, they explained, not to miss the weekend specials. Since my friend worked as a university professor when he was not engaged in shopping, his salary demanded a close attention to bargains. It was a Friday afternoon. Neighbors chatted amicably together by the serried ranks of push baskets that lined the entrance, while their young children stole rolls of toilet paper and tried to eat them. Concealed loudspeakers gave off a Bayreuth Festival Company cavorting with Ride of the Valkynes.

All was as usual, save that a new premium had been added to the supermarket’s galaxy. For a mere nickel — with a food order of five dollars or more — one could receive quite a nice pancake turner and a rack of hooks to set up on the wall. Naturally, my party took advantage of this largess. As we passed through the cash line, we happened to be remarking how sad it was that we couldn’t take two sets of these implements, so that I could carry one set back to the Old World with me. The cashier, a fresh young thing with her hair swung permanently to the left by the aid of a sort of mucilage American women affect, suggested that we break into two parts the order she was violently converting into a chime of cash; if we divided into two consumer units, she would be able to give us an additional pancake turner and rack. I felt somehow that this was not quite what the owners had intended, but I was attracted to the gleaming implements and went along with my friends’ enthusiasm for these new arrangements.

I left the store, then, with the start of a kitchen service, and as a bachelor I felt that 1 had done wonders for my marriageability, as it is called in America.

All would have been well if my hostess had not let slip a piece of information I had failed to note on the placard advertising the giveaway, that these exciting things go on and on, like installments of The Perils of Pauline, and like that vacantfaced victim in the films I should always be left hanging by my finger-

nails from a cliff at the end. Next week, again for a nickel and a minimal purchase, one might claim a serving spoon; the week after, a potato masher; and so on until all the hooks of the rack had dangling from them some more or less useful machine.

Now, originally I had planned to push on north in two weeks, but suddenly the thought of leaving, which had never been far from my mind heretofore, became hateful. I should have a serving spoon, true, and a potato masher, but never, never would I own a wide spatula, a cooking fork, a spoon with holes in it.

The last item hurt especially. In subsequent visits to the market, I lingered long and sorrowfully over the sample holed-spoon displayed. It was beautiful.

The thought of the cookery stuff I would miss if I ended my visit as planned began to prey on my mind. On succeeding weeks, my friends again managed to have their food order split in two, thus supplying me with extra implements. And the more I looked at them, the more of them I wanted. It seemed such a shame not to continue being showered by such largess. I had an image of the young lady in Nottingham whom I hoped someday to marry spurning me for another fellow who had put down roots on his trip to America and managed to stay in one place long enough to collect a full dowry of kitchen tools.

The upshot of all this brooding was that I decided to dally a week longer. My friends were sympathetic. By the end of the extra week, however, as I went around mumbling about how silly it was to think that one could only get research done at Princeton, and that northcentral Florida, after all, was as good a place as any for a long siege of work, my hosts announced the imminent arrival of one of their mothers and I found myself on a northbound train, straining to get a last view of the supermarket as we steamed past palmetto groves and the alligator-soup factory.

I came to my senses only as we reached the brisker air of Maryland and realized how essentially graceless my life had become since I had *

fallen victim to the supermarket and its siren charms. I had learned, to my horror, that I could not be trusted to retain my moral vigor on American soil, and though I know there must be lovely markets in Hightstown and Trenton, Cranbury and Princeton Junction, I have learned enough now to keep my distance. I shall henceforth have my goods and chattels shipped in by air from Fortnum & Mason’s, curl up in my burberry, and keep constantly at hand my illuminated edition of the poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson.