Posted tagged ‘soda fountain’

“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.”

February 18, 2016

I have amazed myself. This morning Gracie and I were out and about by 9:45. Perhaps that doesn’t sound early, but it was shortly after I woke up and it was accomplished without coffee, a feat in itself. The first stop on our list was for blood letting, the reason for no coffee. Next stop was the dump though it would be better described as the tundra where a freezing wind blew across the open areas. My trunk was filled, but I was quick to toss the bags into the receptacle then jump back into the warm car. CVS was next for Gracie’s pills. The last stop before home was Dunkin’ Donuts.

Most of my favorite places in my old home town are changed almost beyond recognition or are totally gone. I lived there for eleven years. I remember the sights, smells and sounds of that town. While walking in the square, I could hear the pins falling in the bowling alleys below the movie theater. The alleys as well as some pool tables were at the bottom of a set of stairs. I used to peek through the glass on the door, but I could only see the stairs and a bit of the wooden floor where the stairs ended. Never once did I venture down. I didn’t know anyone who did. I only remember the sound.

Uptown sometimes smelled like popcorn. Down a narrow street off the square was a small place where candy and popcorn were made. It had a counter at the front of the store where you could buy the candy and popcorn, always cheaper than at Star Market. They were packaged in plastic bags with only the name of the contents on the front. I didn’t know the name of the small plant which made them. I only remember the smell, the aroma.

Two drugstores were in the square. One was small with only four stools at the soda fountain while the other had a long marble counter and several stools. I could get a free coke from the small one if I was with my father. I had to pay at the other drug store, but it was only a dime. I always ordered a vanilla coke. The soda jerk started by putting the vanilla syrup in the glass, then added coke syrup and finally the fizzy water as we used to call it because we didn’t know what it was. The drink was never served with ice. I used a straw from the metal container to sip my drink. I don’t think I have ever tasted a better coke.

I remember every store. I could give you a tour of what was. I remember the green police box which stood in the middle of the road where three streets met until someone hit it and the box could not be saved. During the day shoppers walked up and down Main Street. Some shoppers carried paper bags while others wheeled wire baskets behind them. At night the movie theater marquee was lit. The stores were closed for the night. There were some street lights which were decorated every Christmas. Even now after all these years I can close my eyes and see it all.

“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is as potent as caffeine, no matter your age.”

December 11, 2015

The middle of December shouldn’t be this warm. Yesterday set a new record high and today is already in the 50’s. I have yet to see my breath this winter. Santa will probably arrive wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Bermudas.

Yesterday was my most industrious day. The to do was completed. All the presents got wrapped and were put in boxes ready to mail. They’ll go out tomorrow. Gracie and I went to the dump, to Agway and finally to a grocery store so I could buy dinner. Last night I was totally exhausted from all the up and down the stairs and the hauling of boxes and presents.

My mother didn’t drive when I was a kid so I can’t imagine how she got all her shopping done. I don’t remember her ever being missing on a day when my dad was home to drive her. Maybe my mother did mail order shopping as our reference book for Christmas presents was the Sears catalog. My brother and I would look through the toy section time and time again and we’d circle what we wanted. The gifts probably arrived when we were in school. I know she hid them everywhere: the attic, the ironing board closet, the next door neighbor’s and the trunk of my dad’s car. We’d sometimes come across them but not because we looked.

I always did my shopping up town at Woolworth’s, Grant’s or the drug stores. The biggest drug store, the Middlesex Drug, sat on one side of the square. It had a soda fountain which had stools and a marble counter. They made the coke the old way by putting in the syrup then the fizzy water as we used to call it. In the middle of the store was always a display at Christmas. It was filled with perfumes and powders in festive boxes. I always checked them all out, but they were too expensive. I usually only had only a dollar or two, too poor for the drug store but rich enough for Woolworth’s.

Giving presents to all my family was really a big thing to me. I spent so much time walking up and down the aisles looking for something special for each of them. My sisters sometimes got baby bottles for their dolls. I remember the nipples were always pink. My brother was happy with his balsam plane. My mother made a big deal over the perfume I’d bought despite how inexpensive it was. My dad welcomed new handkerchiefs. He always carried one with him. I remember him pulling one out and blowing his nose with a great deal of noise.

I’d wrap my own presents and put them under the tree right in front. I was so proud of them.