You see that storefront with the "Retail Space Available 2,300 Sq Ft" sign? That was our local stationers -- they carried office supplies, fine notebooks, pens, and greeting cards. They always had a few things in there you couldn't find elsewhere. It was the perfect place to shop for a last minute gift.
You see that storefront over there? The one with the sign in the window that reads, "4,500 Sq Ft Perfect for Restaurant/Bar. Fixtures included. Liquor license available?" That was our local steakhouse. They always served quality beef, nicely charred, with decent sides. Friendly staff, okay wine list (the mark-ups were sane), and terrific Caesar salads. It wasn't Peter Luger's but it was close and affordable. It was cozy.
Make a left. See that little space on the corner? The one with plywood sheets covering the windows? That was our local convenience store. It was owned by a sweet Pakastani couple. They were there all the time, selling everything from cigarettes to sodas to magazines. Last time I was in there they told me they were thinking of closing. "Even with the Lotto customers, we don't do the business any more."
We drove another couple of blocks. A still, damp morning. Crows perched on the dumpsters behind the A & P were happily pecking at their plastic garbage bags. Sometimes the bears will come down here to feast on the trash.
You see that space over there? Used to be a local video store. They had the weirdest selection -- you never knew what you were going to find. Lots of Philippine and Mexican horror movies -- god knows where they found them -- and a whole fixture full of anime. Big Gus -- he worked there in the evenings -- was a walking encyclopedia when it came to cult flicks. He was the one who turned me on to Coffin Joe.
And that little white house where the road forks left? That was Susan's Antiques Center. She didn't have a lot of great stuff, but every so often you'd find something interesting. A wheelbarrow, maybe a wrought iron lamp. She had some nice porcelain pieces too. Susan was a funny old bird -- you never knew when she was going to be open. I guess she didn't need the money.
You talk to people, you get to know them. They become part of your life. Take Mark and Dora -- they had a shoe store in town for close to twenty-five years. Great selection of work shoes. A few years ago, their daughter was in a terrible car crash. The whole community came through for the family -- donating blood, taking care of the store, bringing food over, watching their other two kids, raising money to help with the costs. Thank god she made it, but it was touch-and-go for a long time. They closed last year. I heard they went down to Florida. Someone bought their building and tore it down. Now they're building a CVS there. Right across the street from a Rite-Aid. It's crazy.
Yeah, but people need drugs. A lot of drugs. How else are they going to make it through this mess? There's money in those pills. They'll never pass healthcare reform as long as the Free Market Boys can make a profit off people's illness. Let me tell you, poot, it's a sick society. Just take a look around you.