Ladies & Gentlemen: The Rolling Stores

The New York Times: “It is 3 in the afternoon, and Anthony Palmer, 62, is behind the wheel of the beat-up, retrofitted and rebranded bread truck that is Anthony’s Rolling Store. Today his wares include vegetable oil, cornstarch, Alka-Seltzer, oatmeal pies, ramen noodles, ice cream, Slim Jims, doughnuts, ChapStick, Dial soap, little cigars, chips, fruit punch and Saltine crackers.”

“Mr. Palmer’s truck is among the last of a small and dying tradition in this section of black Atlanta, just west and northwest of downtown. In the 1970s and ’80s, there were rolling stores all over neighborhoods like English Avenue and Vine City, stocked with all of the fixings for a real supper … the disappearance of the rolling stores may simply be a result of the relentless and multifarious pace of change in Atlanta, one of those American cities that move and morph at the pace of the nation itself.”

“The truck does not roll as much as it used to — just a few hours a week. The Atlanta Falcons are building their new football stadium just down the road. It looks like a cut diamond, or like some futuristic building on Mars. Everyone is talking about neighborhood revitalization. Mr. Palmer can envision the day when the threadbare old houses like his are replaced by condos with fitness centers. It bothers him some. But sometimes he talks as though change in the city is a force too powerful to be judged, but rather something at which to marvel, like a storm.”

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