Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ode to small town America

Many of you know that I grew up in a teeny tiny little town up in the high desert of the Sierras. Population approx. 3,000 (maybe it was 3,300) when I was a kid. Tiny. The White Mountains with their famous Bristlecone pines on one side of the valley I lived it. The majestic granite of the Sierras on the other. Lots of sand and sage brush in between.

We had a Main Street (what tiny town doesn't?), lined with shops and stores that looked like they stepped right out of a movie set from the 40's or 50's. In fact, Main Street hadn't changed much from the time my Mom grew up in my teeny tiny little town. This was before strip malls strangled the charm out of towns, including the one I grew up in. There was the big stuffed bear at the sporting goods store at the main traffic light in town. And the theater that I saw the first Star Wars in. And two of my favorite places: Rexall and Ben Franklin's.

I know, what a geek, right?

Rexall still exists, I believe (don't know if it's still in my little town, though). That was where my BFF's and I would smell exotic fragrances and dabble with such sophisticated make up samples as sky blue eyeshadow (yes, it was the mid to late 70's). And kept me supplied in Bonne Bell 7-Up lipsmackers. Rexall somehow meant "there's a whole different world out there ... somewhere" to me.

Oh, and Ben Franklin's! The five and dime store. I loooove five and dime stores. Do you remember these? Do they still exist (not in the Silicon Valley!)?? When I was a kid, the whole family had something to look at. Magazines or paperback books. Comic books galore. Chocolate bars and candy, and my parents complaining that they cost 25 cents when they were a dime (or something) growing up. Sewing, knitting, crocheting patterns. Pillow cases and tableclothes stamped with designs for you to embroider or cross stitch over. Yarn and embroidery floss. Cake decorating supplies. Games, toys and puzzles. Postcards and greeting cards. Gag gifts that I didn't get (inappropriately placed where little kids could see them!). Mexican jumping beans. Maybe even goldfish or "sea monkeys" (brine shrimp). Silly things that were so exotic or fun or somehow engaging to the denizens of very teeny tiny little small towns.

I'm not sure what got me to thinking about five and dimes today. Maybe an email from my brother, who lives on the other side of the world, in Taiwan. Nostalgia? Or thinking about my lifelong love affair with yarn and embroidery floss. Or maybe just a twinge of longing for a simpler time, long before the interwebs and ebay and HDTV. None of which I can live without. Except HDTV.

Do you have fond memories of something long gone from your own childhood?


wzgirl said...

I love a good ol' "five and dime" myself. In my kidhood, there was a Woolworth's sandwiched between Hess's and an A&P. I loved all of the smells - the coffee freshly ground @ the registers, the "Love's Baby Soft" & Jean Nate colognes, the comic book ink, the sweet aroma from the "soda fountain" and that freshly fried clam strips smell...all of it. Shoot, now I'm getting hungry. Lol.

Phydeaux Designs said...

Yes! Love's Baby Soft. :) Yay! And soda fountains ... wonder where I can find one of those around here .... :)

paperhill said...

we had a little five & dime store in town. i went there as a child. there was a lady who worked there she was really old and her boobies were really saggy, we would tell my mom "she's going to close them in the cash register!". my mom would turn twenty shades of red!
we still have one old fashioned five and dime nearby. we go a few times a year with the kids and they love it!

madichan said...

Didn't grow up in a small town, but Las Vegas has changed drastically from when I was a kid (and even more so since my dad was a kid there)! Some things haven't changed, like 99 cent shrimp cocktails at the Golden Gate casino, though they were 50 cents when my dad would buy them for me when we had to pick up my mom from work (she worked swing shift as a blackjack dealer there).

My dad has lots of great stories of old Vegas; I'm not even sure if I've heard them all!

Phydeaux Designs said...

Mad, I love your nostalgic tale of a Vegas past. :)