重遊雜貨店時代

揭開人情、風土、時代的窗景
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2018 / 4月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧莊坤儒


曾經,雜貨店是台灣庶民生活的重要場域,如今,卻象徵傳統社會最末的一抹餘暉。以服務鄉里為最高經營準則的雜貨店,無不是從風土裡長出的產物,除了基本的菸酒米鹽、零食玩具,兼賣冰品涼水、南北乾貨、拜拜用品,還可賒帳、代收郵件,功能因地制宜。

在這個被生活什物環繞的空間裡,訊息在閒話家常中逐步傳開,人間劇場上戲下戲不斷,老闆顧客都是演員。往事漸行漸遠,曾在童年時期參與過雜貨業鼎盛時期的六年級生,眼見雜貨店逐步式微,竟不約而同起身召喚記憶,想捕捉雜貨店的最後一幀剪影。


 

漫畫家阮光民以阿公家開的「用九商店」作為故事原型,創作青年漫畫《用九柑仔店》;插畫家徐銘宏的圖文書《畫說寶春姐的雜貨店》,揭露與自家「隆興商店」之間的愛恨情仇;記者林欣誼、攝影師曾國祥夫妻檔合著《老雜時代》,一人執筆、一人掌鏡,為32間雜貨店寫下各自的身世故事。他們或以文字、以圖像,由個人的回憶出發,夾揉沿路見聞、想像與思考,重新復刻老雜盛世。

懷舊以外,最美是人情

論便利、效率、整齊,雜貨店都無法與便利商店爭勝,但唯獨濃厚的人情味,折服所有人。這個特點,不僅發生在老闆與客人之間,也深深感染了作者,且或隱或顯地表現在作品裡。

阮光民的作品,一向展現對小人物的關懷,加上他偏好創作青年漫畫,而非以格鬥劇情為主的少年漫畫,好比日本漫畫家谷口治郎、弘兼憲史的作品,藉故事演述人際關係、探討人生哲理,又因著小時在阿公雜貨店裡生活、幫忙的經歷,因緣俱足之下,讓他選擇以雜貨店的主題,畫下了《用九柑仔店》。故事以傳統雜貨店在現代社會的存續作為主線,重點放在描寫小人物的互動,以及各自面對的生存處境,在疏淡的節奏裡暖意源源不絕地湧現,與雜貨店的精神相互輝映。

至於,以第一人稱的散文體寫下《畫說寶春姐的雜貨店》的徐銘宏,談起自家經營超過一甲子的老店,心境卻截然不同。他坦白地說:「對我來說,雜貨店就是一直存在,也一直不斷被它所困擾。」

由於從高中時期就離鄉背井,到都市工作、求學,曾兩次回鄉幫忙,希望把現代化的經營模式實行在自家的店,卻跟家人鬧得不歡而散,直到第三次回家幫忙,心境才逐步轉變。他回憶著:「當我決定不要先入為主去認定怎樣是對的,順著爸媽的節奏做事,就可以漸漸感受到店裡可愛的地方,就是人情味這件事。我覺得,這就是我爸媽堅持要做這間店的原因。」

調整好心情以後,他開始著手記錄店中發生的點滴:無論怎樣常見的商品,都只要到他們店裡購買的死忠客人;因為一個客人說不清楚名目的商品,全店員工總動員一起猜想;為了讓賣菜歐巴桑的籃子輕一點,母親一口氣買下對方挑來的所有的菜……傳統雜貨店最根本的互助精神,都在一個個如實紀錄的故事中具體傳達出來,而對家人的齟齬與悔意,也在真情流露裡逐一被包容了。

像這樣的掙扎過程,並非個案。對於記者出身的林欣誼來說,由於長年習慣採用不涉入個人情感、立場的報導寫作模式,究竟要以何種角度寫作,令她著實經歷過一番掙扎。從最早想以絕對客觀、冷派的方式來書寫,卻因為太過拘謹,無法順利發揮,歷經多次重寫,最後調整成以描述具體事件為優先,偶爾出現作者的身影。

雖然乍看《老雜時代》,一如林欣誼所期望的,沒有帶入太多個人成分,但只要稍微細讀,猶如紀錄片一般細描慢繪的視角,以及溫潤的語言,仍能察覺到作者對雜貨店的款款深情。

林欣誼說,這一趟為期一年多,與先生、兒子一起上路的採訪旅程,往往沒有事先告知,就直闖入店,對著店家問東問西,雖然唐突,仍遇到不少熱情相挺的老闆,「他們不僅敞開家門,也敞開心門。有一次我們忙著聊天,小孩沒事做,採訪完,居然小孩都被餵完一碗飯了,實在揪甘心!」也許因為如此,每篇文章收尾之際,寥寥數筆忽地傳遞出作者的聲音,儼然像一名說書人到了最後,再也無法壓抑感情,真情流露。

曾國祥則補充道,作為商業攝影師的他,打從一開始,就決定把這本書當成工作之餘的抒壓管道,因此,他刻意迴避商業攝影慣用的打燈拍法,全數採自然光、快拍的方式完成,細看書中寫真,人物大多都直視鏡頭,而非保持距離的側拍,毫不迴避的目光,似乎意味著老店的服務熱忱,也與文字相輔相成了。

走讀台灣百年庶民生活史

創作的動機,往往再單純不過。就像阮光民說:「漫畫家應該是像橋梁的角色,把你知道的、經過的事情畫下來,也許後輩沒有人知道柑仔店是什麼,就可以透過這部作品,知道當時的情況。」徐銘宏則說:「當時,只是想把家裡的故事記錄下來,以後小孩、子孫可以看,讓他們可以知道家族曾經發生的故事。」曾國祥說:「想到百年以後有人在圖書館裡找到這本書,知道這些事情,那就夠了。」

這些不約而同的想法,似乎暗示著,雜貨店是人們回憶裡共同的亮點。阮光民分享道,《用九柑仔店》已被三立電視台買下版權,即將翻拍成電視劇,而從漫畫家、導演、製作人,居然都有著家中開雜貨店的背景。這也難怪,台灣傳統的雜貨業盛極於1950~1980年之間,而在過去交通不便的時代,大多時候都以步行為主,雜貨店的密度,理當會比現在便利商店的密度還來得更高,根據徐銘宏父親的回憶,在1950年代左右,光在桃園龍潭隆興商店所在的龍元路、東龍路路口,便聚集了5家雜貨店,數量驚人。

1980年以後,傳統的雜貨店開始被新型的便利商店所取代,為了尋找這些碩果僅存的老店家,林欣誼、曾國祥兩人以縝密的地毯式搜索,探訪台灣的大小鄉鎮、漁村、客庄、眷村、部落、礦區……一路走訪,卻意外考掘出台灣不同地區、不同族群的歷史切面。

好比位於宜蘭澳花的伊凡商店,掌櫃的泰雅媽媽以邵(Isaw),與同輩的族人交談時,竟都是流利的日語,原來是因為族人曾受日本人的高壓統治,戰後才出生的他們,從小就習慣和爸媽用日語溝通,反倒是族語只會聽、不大會說,近年才因為注重母語教學的緣故,跟著孫子輩一起學習。

台中大里,從日治時期就開業的楊勝昌商店,日治時期由於罕見競爭對手,生意一支獨秀;1950~1960年間,大里的鹹菜業起飛,由於實施食鹽專賣制度,店中生意大好,光倉庫裡就囤了約3,000公斤的鹽,好因應鹹菜製作的需求;1980年代,因為五金、製鞋等輕工業發展,再度邁向鼎盛。店的生意起伏就緊貼著當地產業的發展史。

曾國祥說:「站在歷史的線上一刀劃過去,本省的、外省的、客家的、原住民的,大家都在做不一樣的事。」雖然沒有文明古國的大江大海,但小小的島嶼,在短短百年之間,歷經多次政權的更迭,高壓、高密度的歷史層次,淬鍊出了這些精采細膩的人民生活小史,站在雜貨店的窗口,竟能看見政治、經濟與人民生活變化的軌跡,這樣無心插柳的收穫,是兩人原本沒有預期到的。

而在他們悉心地採拾之下,這些本來就要在時光洪流中灰飛湮滅的動人故事,竟就彼此聯綴,最終成就了一張斑斕織錦,而這也許是除了記錄、懷舊之餘,雜貨店所為讀者帶來的更深一層的意義吧。

人人心中都有一間雜貨店

如果說,《老雜時代》為讀者打開文史的角度,那麼,虛構的《用九柑仔店》,則點明了現實面的經營的問題。

事實上,正好站在傳統與現代交替時刻的六年級生,面對於雜貨店邁向消亡的必然,反倒顯得意外地灑脫。林欣誼說:「每個年代都會因為自己的物質條件、美感經驗,發展出自己的樣子。」就像過去的雜貨店,1990年代後興起的誠品書店,乃至現在的獨立書店……都是時代珍貴的顯影。

預計會在今年完結的《用九柑仔店》,故事講述主角因為阿公生病之後,回到故鄉接手雜貨店生意所發生的點滴,除了角色的細膩互動引人共鳴,隨著劇情推展,不免也讓讀者為雜貨店未來的去向感到擔憂。阮光民笑著說,就連出版社編輯都希望他能為雜貨店的未來找到出路,「但我覺得沒辦法。」他坦率地表示:「畢竟我也沒辦法違背現實狀況,去虛構它打敗現代潮流什麼的,我的收尾方式就是,『日子就是這樣過啊!』」

不過,物資的交換與交易,由於攸關著民生大計,不管環境怎樣變化,需求從來不曾減少過。林欣誼、曾國祥說:「人人心中都有一間雜貨店。」雖然傳統雜貨店風光不再,但時下正風行販售特色農友、小型醬廠產品的「選物店」,或者複合餐飲服務,兼售書籍、食材的獨立書店,都是雜貨店的另一種型態變化;或者也有像邀約《老雜時代》到店座談的「新村小商號」,主打裸賣的食材,以及非塑膠製的生活用品,為雜貨店拓展出新貌。

不管腳步怎樣往前,日子總踏實地過,以人為本,是文武百業誕生的起點,也是雜貨店的精神所在,這些店家,就在日常裡持續為我們服務,不曾熄燈。

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近期文章

英文

Traditional Grocery Stores

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Robert Green

Corner grocery stores once played an important role in the everyday lives of people in Taiwan. Today they are the last vestiges of vanishing traditional society. They arose to meet the needs of local communities, and place a high value on serving those communities. Their wares included cigarettes, alcohol, rice, salt, snacks and toys. They also sold frozen goods, cold drinks, dried foodstuffs, and objects needed for religious rituals. They also extended credit to customers and provided postal services.

Amid the sundries, local news also spread through the chitchat of the store’s customers. The store’s owner and the customers all played a role in this ever-changing drama of life. Some kids born in the 1970s who helped out in their families’ corner stores witnessed the heyday of such stores during their childhoods and then watched this world fade away before their eyes. They have set out to capture the vanishing world by summoning the memories of their youth.


Comic-book author Ruan Guang­-min created Yong-jiu Grocery Store, a series based on his grandfather’s corner store. Illustrator Hsu Ming-hung took up the subject in Bao­chun’s Grocery, which explores the ups and downs of a family grocery. Lin Hsin-yi, a journalist, and her husband Wing Tseng, a photographer, compiled The Good Old Groceries, which records the stories of 32 traditional grocery stores in pictures and words. Through text, images, and personal memories, they conjure up the golden age of the corner grocery.

The comfort of the familiar

In terms of convenience, efficiency and orderliness, the corner store is no match for the modern con­veni­ence store. But its charm lies in the warmth of its atmosphere. This unique aspect is evident in the relationships between owner and customers. That human warmth also permeates the artistic representations of the world of the corner store.

Ruan Guang­-min’s work is marked by a concern for the lives of regular people, and he prefers to tell stories through comics designed for young readers. His stories depict human relations and explore attitudes toward life. His experience working in his grandpa’s corner store led to the creation of Yong-jiu Grocery Store. The story examines the corner store’s struggle for survival in the modern society. He focuses on the interactions of ordinary people and how they navigate everyday life. Through the humdrum rhythm of daily life emerges the comforting warmth of familiarity that reflects the essence of the corner store.

Hsu Ming-hung, who wrote Bao­chun’s Grocery in first-person prose, has quite another opinion when he talks about his family’s grocery, which has been open for more than 60 years. “For me the store is a constant in my life, even with the difficulties that has brought,” he says candidly.

Hsu left his hometown to study and work in an urban area after high school, but occasionally returned home to help out in the store. On his first two trips home, he tried to convince his family to adopt more modern methods to run the shop, but this just led to endless arguing. On his third trip back, his attitude began to change. “I decided to stop being so stubborn, and as I fell in with my parents’ rhythms, I slowly discovered that the charm of the place was the human warmth,” Hsu says. “And that’s exactly why my parents continued running the place.” 

After this change of heart, Hsu began to record daily life in the shop in a journal. Through these stories he real­ized that the vitality of the shop arose from the family’s willingness to help others. This caring atmosphere also broke down his misgivings about his family and made him more tolerant.

Others experienced a similarly complicated process in understanding the traditional groceries. Journalist Lin Hsin-yi struggled to adopt a more personal approach in her writing after spending years reporting from an objective standpoint. She initially set out to record the life of the traditional stores objectively and dispassionately. But the restrictive approach proved difficult. After many drafts, she decided to give priority to describing specific events, but occasionally letting the author’s voice emerge.    

At first glance, The Good Old Groceries gives the impression that Lin succeeded in avoiding personal commentary in the work. But just as the perspective of a documentary filmmaker becomes apparent during the telling of the story, Lin’s affection for her subject is revealed through her loving descriptions.

He husband, Wing ­Tseng, says he decided to depart from his commercial photography techniques and adopt a new style for this book project, which he treated as a relaxing pastime. He avoided professional lighting, using only nat­ural light and capturing his subjects in spontaneous photos. The portraits in the book reveal subjects who stare directly into the lens, rather than profile shots taken from a distance. The candid expressions of the shopkeepers reveal the warmth they feel for their customers, and the pictures complement the stories told in the text.

Timeless tales of the people

The artists and authors often find quite simple sources of inspiration. “A comic-book artist acts as a bridge,” says Ruan Guang­-min. “I draw the things I know and have experienced. In the future if someone doesn’t know what a traditional grocery was like, they can learn about it from my book.”

Hsu Ming-hung also had posterity in mind. “At first I just wanted to jot down the history of the shop so that my kids and grand­kids would know the stories of the family business,” he says.

Wing ­Tseng expresses a similar sentiment. “I will be more than satisfied if in a hundred years people can find our book in the library and learn about this part of history,” he says.   

The authors’ common sentiments indicate that the tradi­tional groceries are a bright spot in the shared memory of the community. In the 1980s, after modern con­veni­ence stores began to replace the traditional groceries, Lin and ­Tseng scoured old communities to seek out the last of the traditional stores. They visited towns and villages large and small, fishing communities, Hakka townships, old military housing complexes, Aboriginal villages, and mining areas. Along the way they discovered a cross-­section of regional and communal history.

“From the historical perspective,” says Tseng, “differences become visible in the customs and practices of Taiwan’s various communities—old-established Chinese immigrants, Chinese who came after World War II, Hakka communities, and Aborigines.”

Although it lacks the long history of an ancient civil­iza­tion, Taiwan has experienced intense and dramatic changes in governance over the past century, resulting in pronounced differences among various communal histories. By studying the traditional grocery stores, one can also glimpse the trajectory of these political, economic, and social changes. Although Lin and ­Tseng didn’t set out to explore this aspect of the groceries, they have provided a deeper layer of historical significance through a work intended only to provide a documentary record and nostalgia for the old stores.

The heart of the neighborhood

If The Good Old Groceries provides readers with a historical perspective, the fictional Yong-jiu Grocery Store takes a look at the struggles of running such a shop. 

In fact, the protagonist, witnessing the changing times, seems surprisingly relaxed about the inevitable dying out of traditional groceries. “In every age people develop their own style based on their material circumstances and their aesthetic experience,” Lin Hsin-yi says.

The final installment of the Yong-jiu Grocery Store series is slated to be published this year. In the story, the main character returns to his hometown and helps his grandfather, who has become too ill to run the family shop. The interaction between the characters is meticulously rendered and resonates with readers, even as concern over the inevitable waning of the traditional shop helps drive the plot. “I couldn’t ignore the realities and make it seem like the shop would triumph over the prevailing trends” Ruan Guang­-min says frankly. “My attitude in approaching the ending was simply to admit that that’s just how things go.”

Consumers have an unwavering demand to do their daily shopping, no matter how times change. It might no longer be a great age for the traditional grocery store, but growing demand for specialized agri­cultural and artisanal products, such as small-batch soy sauces, has led to the rise of specialty stores. Food and beverages are now sold in some neighborhood shops and there is a vogue for independent bookstores that offer drinks and snacks. These are all offshoots of the corner grocery. The New Village Grocery, a specialty shop in Hsin­chu which hosted a book event for The Good Old Groceries, sells unpackaged foodstuffs and non-plastic housewares. It too is a new take on the traditional grocery.

No matter how times change, enterprises succeed when they don’t forget the people they serve. This is also the essence of the traditional grocery store. These shopkeepers persist in meeting the daily needs of their customers and continue to dance to the music of time.

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