Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The day they knocked down the K-Mart, part of my childhood died

OK, so it's not the palais of The Kinks' "Come Dancing," and they haven't actually knocked it down, at least not yet, but a trip to K-Mart today had me waxing nostalgic. It's less than a mile from my Mom's house, the house I grew up in — two blocks the long way — and it was a big part of my growing up.

The girls and I went there after school in a fruitless search for some towel racks for the bathroom. It's my own fault the search was fruitless — I've known about the closing for quite some time and been meaning to stop in there, but as of today, they're five days from closing, and the place was pretty picked over.

There was no sign of the luncheonette that used to sit at the back of the store, in the middle, that served the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Nor was there any sign of the candy counter with its slushie machine. (I think they sold Icees, not Slush Puppies — I do remember they came in Coke or cherry.) Of course, those have both been gone for years, the luncheonette obliterated by sporting goods and the candy counter first replaced by a jewelry counter, then by makeup (not even at a counter). Today, electronics were gathered in front of the snack bar that had belatedly replaced the luncheonette, sitting in the former entrance to the K-Mart supermarket that long predated "Super Kmarts," which I can only spell in the modern fashion, without the hyphen.

I pointed out all these things to the girls, who were at least a little curious about their Mommy's childhood. Fittingly, we were able to pick up a few school supplies: I remember walking up there with my best friend to buy school supplies all by ourselves. I got a set of colored pencils with Snoopy on them; I still have one of those pencils kicking around somewhere.

I told the girls about the sign that used to be out front, with a big neon K rotating on top, and how that K could sometimes be seen from Grandma's back yard, peeking through the trees. I told them about how the Wal-Mart next door (which I'm sure contributed to the K-Mart's demise) used to be the site of a drive-in. I had to remind the girls what a drive-in was (they did remember, vaguely, going to one on the other side of town a couple of years ago, just before it closed, and before my old convertible finally died), and then I had to explain why drive-ins closed. (We don't have one of those minivans with the flip-down DVD screens, or their experience sitting in the car watching a movie would have seemed much less exciting.)

I told them that the bank on the corner used to be the site of a Mobil gas station (where we held drama-club car washes when I was in high school), and the empty space behind it used to hold a Ponderosa steak house (where my fifth grade teacher, knowing my home situation was less than ideal, would occasionally take me for dinner after school).

And then we went home.

No comments:

Post a Comment