Monday, 12 November 2012

Monday musings . . .

I was sitting here thinking yesterday, and getting all sentimental about the local shops and community of my childhood. Perhaps it was just me looking back through rose coloured glasses . . . but I think that they had a lot more personality way back then, an almost familial feel that was quite tangible.  They felt like a part of the family, the community, unlike the shops and towns of today which seem very plastic, like white bread . . . and not so terribly unique.

For instance . . . one of the big retail shops over here called Comet, is closing their doors for good shortly, putting umpteen thousand people out of work and just before Christmas too, which is sad . . . but nobody will really miss it.  We lost our local Butcher though . . . about six months ago now, and he is quite, quite missed!  I think it is because his business had a face . . . and Comet just does not.  Sadly a lot of our small shops are now closing, and our pubs . . . because they just cannot compete with the likes of the larger conglomerates with their three for two sales, and shoddy Chinese merchandise.

Source: via Sheila on Pinterest

When I was a girl the big local shop was the Stedmans store on Commercial Street.  It was a 5 and dime and very popular with folks, both local and from the surrounding areas.  That is where my friends and I used to go and oggle all of the latest in fashions , jewelry,  and make-up and to listen to all of the latest pop songs.    It wasn't remarkably large in size . . . but what it may have lacked in size, it more than made up for in presence.

It had a smell . . . and I'm not sure that it is even a smell that I could describe to you . . . it just smelled like . . . well, Stedmans!  A mixture of wood and cloth, furniture polish, paper, candy, Evening in Paris Perfume, and Lady Patricia's Hair Conditioner, with a splash of Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific thrown in for good measure . . .

The floors were very old and made from wood . . . most probably oak, with a burnished sheen, a beautiful patina worn from the thousands and thousands of feet which had walked on it through the years.  And it creaked  as you trod upon it . . . such a comforting sound it was . . . the sound of Stedmans, and if you were wearing heels of any kind, there was another sound as well . . . the hollow sound of heel hitting floor, that you just don't hear that often any more . . .

All of the aisles were lined up the length of the shop, with the cashier being in the middle of the centre aisle, not very ingenuous I suppose . . . but it worked well, or seemed to.  They didn't need a whole lot of cashiers in those days . . . only one, and there may have only been one other person in the store as well.  People were just more honest . . . or was it more trusting??  Or maybe a combination of both.  ☺

I can remember the seemingly old woman that worked in it.  She was probably younger than I am now, but she seemed really old.  She was an old spinster, very short and tiny, with black hair, pulled back in a bun and held in place with a hair net.  She wore little round glasses.  Yes . . . it's true . . .  I am not making this up.  That is actually what she looked like, and she used to wear a two piece suit to work, composed of a straight skirt and jacket.  I can remember being a little bit afraid of her . . . she kind of had the look of the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz about her . . .although she was very small in stature, she had a commanding presence.

Source: via Sheila on Pinterest

She attended the local Baptist church which I also went to.  I wish I could remember her name, but sadly, I can't.  I do remember seeing her in later years walking down the street, her hair all white . . . still in the same bun, long after Stedmans had closed it's doors for good.  She led a simple life, did nothing too amazing . . . and probably never traveled very far from outside of the limits of that small town . . . but here I am, all these years later, remembering her with fondness, and I am sure I am not the only one who does.  You just never know who you will influence with your presence.

We had a few other shops in our town as well.  There was a shoe shop where everyone got their new shoes for school in late August.   It was called Mailman's and the couple that owned it lived over the shop.  They were quite well respected in the community.  Then there was the music store, which was called Ditmar's.  That is where I used to buy the reeds for my clarinet, and sheet music and cork grease.  There was also a jewelry shop and a pharmacy.  I cannot remember the name of the Jewelry shop, but I do remember drooling over all of the jewels displayed in it's front window.  I bought a pair of earrings there one year . . . little gold Christmas bells . . . with green enamel holly leaves and red garnet jewels on them.  The Pharmacy was owned by Mr Fairn, who just lived down the street from us in a very big house, which seemed like a mansion to me.  It was white with green trim and set far back from the road behind some trees.  In the summer you could barely see it, but in the autumn and winter when the leaves had fallen, it was quite visible.

Source: via Elaine on Pinterest

There was a restaurant, called the Shaker Restaurant, so called because of the rows of salt and pepper shakers lined along the front counter wall . . . a collection of the owner.  The counter was lined with stools, trimmed with chrome . . . and there were booths.  This was the place to hang out in after school hours with your friends . . . giggling over small bottles of coca cola, sharing plates of chips (french fries) and flirting with the local boys.   There was another restaurant in town called Eisners, which was a lot  more salubrious.  It was the kind of restaurant your parents would have gone to on date night, or where they would have taken you for a family meal on Sunday after church . . . also owned by a family, who lived in a very large Victorian house next to the restaurant.  At Christmas they used to do the whole outline of their house in lights and play loud Christmas Music for all to hear.  Everyone would come from miles around to see it.

There were lots of other shops, far too many to name, but each with their own personality and charm.  There was a bowling alley (another popular hangout), a cinema  (everyone went to the movies on Saturdays) . . .  a pizza place (which is still there.  My cousin owns it now, but he started off working there as a boy.) and of course a grocery store and a few other odds and sodds.  Everyone knew everyone else and who lived in what house and what people did for a living.  There were the streets with the richer homes on it . . .  the homes which had the local lawyers, and real estate agents and mayor, teachers, etc in them . . . and then there were the more modest homes, which people like my family lived in . . . and then, truth be told, across the railroad tracks were the homes where the people without a lot of money lived and where the native North Americans and the Black people lived.  That's just the way it was . . .  I am glad that has changed now.

Source: via Scott on Pinterest

I am quite grateful that I got to live in that  small town . . . a town which had it's characters and indeed had character!    We were only there for a few short years, but it etched an indelible mark on my own character that is still there.  I have lived there as an adult as well . . . and three of my five children graduated from that same high school that I attended all those years ago.  Most, if not all of the old shops are gone now, replaced with modern shops and names like Home Hardware and Pharmasave . . . and Tim Hortons.  The old Shaker restaurant is a Chinese Restaurant.  The old cinema where I shed many a tear over unrequited love is now a bar/restaurant . . . and Eisners is no more.  Change happens . . . time moves on.  They call it progress, but I wonder . . . is it really progress???  Or is something vital and precious being lost . . .

Something to think about.

Great news, my cards seem to be doing very well in the Gallery, so I am going to have to do up another assortment to take in.  Of the ten I took last week, only 3 remain!   Exciting news for me!


I had to make up a Little Girl with a Little Curl Matchbox doll at the weekend which I had sold and I made another one as well based on the Forget-M-Not talk by President Uchtdorf last year.  I think she turned out quite sweet.

I really enjoy making these dolls, although they do take a lot of time to make.  They're quite enjoyable and I have plans to make one of each of my characters as time permits.  And if nobody buys them, that's ok too . . . because I love them myself and could quite happily keep each of them!

Must dash, it's gone past 8 and I haven't even had my shower yet!

A pleasant thought to carry you through the day.  Happy day all!

"Some of the days in November carry with them the whole memory of Summer as a fire opal carries the colour of moonrise."  ~Gladys Taber


Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . a tasty Pork and Apple Pie!

Oh and . . . pssst . . . here's a look at something else I got up to just recently:  The Christmas Chief.



Tracy said...

Hi, Marie! Another lovely walk down memory lane! In our town, most small shops are closing, and there's little left on the high street as they can't compete with the two newer shopping malls. The shape of down town is changing, and it's not always nice or needed or necessary. Your little match box dolls are so sweet! :o) Happy Week ((LOVE & BIG HUGS))

LauraC said...

Although I lived in a medium-size city in N.E. USA, what you described was my neighborhood. We did not have to leave our neighborhood for anything but clothes shopping. My mother knew all the shopkeepers by name and they all knew her. I remember when I went into the liquor store alone for the first time at 18 to buy a bottle of champagne to give to my parents for their anniversary, the owner was astounded to see the little girl that had accompanied her parents all those years, able to purchase in his store now too. I'm sad that my kids missed the thrill of taking a quarter (or less) to the corner store (we had 2 to choose from: Eddie's or Mike's)and picking 25 individual penny candies, changing our minds frequently, probably driving the owner's wife nuts since they were all behind the counter and she had to fetch them. Wax bottles with root beer liquid in them, string licorice, sweet-tarts, sour apple gumballs, Lick-a-maid, and red-hot dollars (which were not hot at all.)
And why, oh why, is Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific not still available?! You could smell my hair 10 feet away and it was a wonderful smell!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I live in a small town. I was born here and remember the way it used to be. Now we have a lot of empty buildings and the ones that remain occupied seem to be rather shabby. Our 5 and 10 was much like yours and Oh my!, I do remember using dippity do! Glad your work is selling well at the gallery. It's nice to see all your hard work being appreciated. It is now just after 8 in the morning here, I'm still in my jams but plan to enjoy it yet for a while. After today my week is going to be very busy. Hope your Monday is a great one!

La Table De Nana said...

Your memory is unbelievable Marie..I remember snippets of my time before 10 but not much..
I do remember the hair yarn..w/ 2 girls I had a Tupperware container full:) Loved them and no ironing!

April In Paris..gee do they still sell that?

Congratulations on the cards..That's swell..and I am sure it will get busier and busier for you.
WE will always be able to say we knew you when:)

Grammy Staffy said...

Your memory amazes me. Until I was 10 I live in a small town with stores and shops with personality.... However except for the Woolworth 5 and dime I can't remember any of their names. There was a drug store where we went for ice cream. I loved sitting up at the counter on a stool and eating my treat. Thanks for bringing back fun memories.

Hugs, Lura

Cathyjo said...

Memory's. I and my brother were talking about them just this last Sat.My mom loved Eveming in Paris, my dad would get it for her at christmas and on her B-Day when he could.there was a little store that the owner lived in the back of by name of Johson my Bor. said I say or other.I'm sure sale's will pick up for you more and more,and they my want some of your other work,do save some for us online ok.oooxxx