Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2005 / 25 Shevat, 5765
Dime-store finds a blast from the past
There aren't many small town dime stores left these days, which is why when one crosses your path, it is your civic duty to go inside. On some back road travel, we recently discovered an old dime store with wooden floors and bulk candy in open bins. It was such a step back in time, I expected to see Mamie Eisenhower browsing through notions.
An entire wall was filled with pretty greeting cards priced two for a dollar. Not a single card had a half-naked, sweaty person on the outside or an insulting slap-in-the face message on the inside.
At the end of the greeting card aisle was a display of ladies unmentionables. There were dozens of garments designed to support anything that could possibly need a lift. Every last foundation piece was all cotton and all white. Victoria and her secrets had not been to this part of the world.
Around the corner from unmentionables were a few tropical print swimsuits and a selection of footwear. Rain boots and flip flops for kids, canvas tennis shoes for women.
This little dime store had it all: candles, crepe paper, pie pans, sugar shakers, flashlights, refrigerator magnets, dish cloths, lamp oil and bungee cords. There were stamped pillow cases for cross stitching and socks tube socks, dress socks, and those brown socks with the red stripes that grandmas with needles turn into sock moneys.
If this place didn't have it, you flat out didn't need it.
On the far side of the store lighted aquariums glowed with colored reefs, home to goldfish and guppies swimming around a few of their own that had gone belly up.
Green and yellow parakeets sat on swings in cages. Shavings from the hamsters littered the floor and the noxious smell of roasted grain filled the air. All that was missing were little green turtles crawling on plastic islands with fake palm trees.
And then there was the toy aisle. This dime store had every toy that has ever been loathed by a parents group, nervous parent and the PTA. Cap guns, ping pong ball guns, six-shooters with pearl handles, fancy holsters and handcuffs. Real handcuffs, not the sissy kind a mom can undo; the good kind that come with a key.
Just when I thought the creaky old dime store couldn't possibly hold one more surprise, I rounded the corner and gasped for breath. There it sat, next to the window facing Main Street. A beautiful horse with a full mane, brown eyes, strong legs, and a sign on the coin box that said, "25 cents a ride."
Just then, a man wearing carpenter's pants and work boots came striding down the aisle with a little girl in a pink jacket tucked under his arm. Without saying a word, he plopped her down on the horse and dropped in a coin.
She gripped the saddle horn for dear life as the horse lunged forward, dove downward and then reared forward again. Wisps of blond hair tumbled in front of her face as she focused straight ahead. Her little head bobbed forward and backward as the horse raced faster and faster galloping across open fields and rolling meadows.
The horse slowed to a trot, then a walk, and slowly came to a stop. The dad picked up the little girl and slung her under his arm again. Away they went, out of the dime store and out of the past.
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