Friday, December 23, 2011

The Five and Dime

In the small town where I grew up there was just the one main street, wide enough for diagonal parking.  There was a drugstore on one corner, and it had a soda fountain just like the one in "It's A Wonderful Life."  Mother liked a lemon phosphate, but I discovered the joy of a pineapple soda with strawberry ice cream.  There was a dress shop (where I got my first job when I was old enough to get a work permit), a record store with booths where they let you listen to 78 rpm records, one of the first Karmelkorn shops (oh, the smell wafting out would make you drool just walking by), and my absolute favorite store...Kress's Five and Dime.  The store had hardwood floors and it was deep, darker toward the back away from the windows.  To my little girl eyes, it was filled with treasures.  That's where my father would take me to do my Christmas shopping.  In itself, that was a gift because Daddy was not a patient man, but he waited just out of sight while I went up and down every aisle looking for the perfect presents, my hoarded quarters tied in the corner of a hanky.  I had to see everything, but every year I returned to the same counters, every year my parents got the same gifts.  I wonder if my dad ever tired of wearing Old Spice aftershave; I love the smell to this day.  I thought that the sparkling pressed glass bowls, plates, and glasses were the most elegant things ever.  Waterford crystal couldn't hold a candle to those displays in the Five and Dime, and Mother exclaimed over each piece every year as if it were fine crystal (and as if it were a surprise).  Pressed glass still catches my eye at flea markets.

It was nice...where I grew up.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

When you were born, and until he passed away in 1949, my dad's father was managing the S. H. Kress store in downtown Los Angeles, but before that he had managed Pasadena and San Diego. His California assignments were after his start in Colorado and then a stint in Seattle. He was a troubleshooter at times, helping open some stores and rescuing at least one. It is because of Kress's business sense and my grandfather's abilities that my father did not suffer during the depression like my mother's family did. Unfortunately he passed away right before I turned 2, so I have no memories. But...he had always wanted a little girl, and he had one to play with for a little while at least.