Photo Fiction Inspiration: Cora’s Receipt

Cora grocery receipt 1944

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This image of an old grocery store receipt has inspired several story ideas in my mind. I saw the image while using Pinterest for my story research, and several elements caught my attention:

  • The date
  • Her name
  • The fourth item purchased
  • The hole from the receipt spike
  • The match of the year to the receipt number

The author of the pinned article shared the story of how she found a stack of receipts in an antique register. All of the receipts were Cora’s, and it was clear that Cora ran up a tab each week at the grocery store.

The tablet purchase intrigues me the most. Yes, it could be simple: Cora needed to replenish the household writing paper. But here is where my imagination takes off:

  • Story 1: The tablet becomes another holder of Cora’s “secrets.” She hides her box of tablets — there are 13 —  under an abandoned car she found on the property of a school for the blind. Cora befriended a girl who attends the school, and shares what she hears during her nightly walks through the neighborhood, though she says they are “made up.” However, tonight Cora is meeting up with the blind girl to share a story that Cora must tell her is true.
  • Story 2: Cora has a crush on Charles, one of the Stroker sons, and writes love letters to him that she never sends. She secretly hopes that one day he will ask her why she buys tablets so often, though she’s not sure what she will say. Meanwhile, Charles only talks about his dedication to God and how, unlike his brothers, he plans to never marry. When Cora walks into the store on Halloween, Charles tells her that he is leaving soon to join the Merchant Marines (he saw the Bogart movie) and help with the war effort. Charles is 16 years old.
  • Story 3: Cora is a teacher, and has planned a Halloween Party for the only white family in her school. The family is planning to leave due to the negative racial activity they’ve encountered, and Cora hopes to talk them out of the move. The tablet is a gift Clara plans to give to a budding writer in the family, the first of them all to be educated past the sixth grade.

It’s amazing what the mind can do with a small amount of information. Maybe I’ll write a collection of stories from the image, and not limit myself to one. There’s a thought!



Darla McDavid

I'm Darla, a writer of stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I love cats, coffee, gardening, and tall stacks of books. Click here to subscribe to my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. In my other life, I'm an administrative professional and a Sunday School teacher for preschoolers.

2 Comments Write a comment

  1. You’re so observant, Darla; you noticed things I missed, like the match of the receipt # to the year! So many great possibilities come to mind.
    I once found a receipt our exchange student wrote to pay off shoes she’d picked up in four installments. Of the dates promised on the receipt, school would be over and she’d be back in Germany for the last three payments.


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