March 11, 2008

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

Elsewhere I was advising somebody about where to buy plexiglas, of all things, but then I realized I wasn't talking about plexiglas at all anymore, but remembering buying glass with my dad from Moore & Moore, the hardware store in my hometown. My memory doesn't always work the way I want it to, so I guess I'll go ahead 
and lay this down. 

When I was old enough to walk on the "big road" (two lanes and paved, that is), I'd walk up there in the summer to buy my mom's cigarettes and use the change (from a ten, for a carton!) to buy a coke out of the machine, which was a very big deal. Glass bottles you had to yank out of there HARD ... and then drink them on the premises and leave them in the crate next to the cooler.

I do miss those glass bottles: the curvy coke bottles and the long skinny pepsi bottles. I tell my kids about that, and about buying cigarettes for my mom when I was ten (because the lady knew they were for my mom), and they look at me like I'm from the moon. I haven't thought about that store in years--roughsawn plank floors, half an inch of dust everywhere. It was like shopping in somebody's barn. If you went in there without knowing what you needed, the proprietor could probably tell you, because he sold the guy who had the house before you whatever it was you were trying to fix. And if he didn't know, he'd send you home with three different ones, and you'd bring back the ones you didn't need.

I try not to think about this stuff too much when I go into Lowes or HD now ... and I try not to expect too much help from the "help" there when it comes to advice about what they're selling. Some are knowledgeable. There used to be a guy at the local Lowes who knew a lot about woodworking tools, but he's not there anymore. When I need electrical stuff and advice, I go to the electrical supply store in town, not early or late in the day when the pros are trying to do their jobs, but in the middle of the day. I've gotten good advice there. Same with the glass shop, the family-owned lumberyard, and even the local Ace, which still has the family name attached to it.

Funny thing is, I'm not talking about the 40s or 50s here ... I'm talking about rural PA in the early 1970s ... not that long ago. But we're farther away from that time than American Graffiti (or even Happy Days) was from the 50s ... so I guess I can be permitted a little nostalgia for fly paper, nails you buy by the scoop in paper sacks, pipe smoke, etc.

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