Thursday, March 25, 2010

Home again, home again, 1-2-3

I'm home. I really felt at home today standing in the rain, looking at the fir and cedar trees. I helped the bro in-law with some work he had today, he was installing portable white boards in a school about 5 miles from where I grew up. He and my sister run a small business that sells desks, chairs and library shelves etc. mainly to schools and institutions and we were assembling the cross between Ikea and Mechano Set white boards. Right up my alley, I can run the screw gun with the best of them and it is not to physical. I am still on low exertion orders for the concussion I mentioned a while back.

I took a break and wandered outside the school. As I stood there in the rain I remembered my childhood in that neck of the woods.

When I was three my parents bought a small corner store (way before 7/11). It was a General Store, it sold everything that you would find in the big grocery stores and had a meat counter to boot. We lived in the living quarters attached to the store so there was always a continuous flow of friends and mostly customers into the kitchen for coffee.

I often hid out in the living room just watching TV as I didn't want to hang around the continuous wheeling and dealing that seemed to always be going on. "We can pay for the groceries next week if you let us have some today", "Can we charge for the groceries because so and so broke his leg and can't work for six weeks". "You don't need the money, you have a store". It never seemed to end.

But that was home and we lived there until I was eleven so, I guess you could say my formative years, at least those that I remember. I drove past the store last week on an errand, stopped in and spoke to the clerk. The present owner had purchased the now convenience store about three years ago. The living quarters have been gone for years and the store is now as big as the store and house was when I lived there.

There are some houses I recognized near the store, most had been on huge lots, almost acreages, but are now surrounded by infills and condos. Very crowded now it was almost rural in the day.

I remember my first phone call home. A gaggle of kids (more than two) we were intently watching a telephone lineman climb the pole with belt and spurs ala (sp?) lumberjack with awe and fascination. He climbed down with a handset in his hand and asked if any of us knew our phone number. Of the gaggle, I was the only one that knew their number, we were pre-schoolers, pre-kindergartener myself. This was in the days before dial phones. Our number was 86L3, I still remember it (I also remember the address of the house we lived in as a smaller child, prior to the store, probably only because my mother answered the phone, as was the custom in those days with the house address: 918 West 20th. Now, where's my cell phone and keys?).

My mother answered the phone, "Newton Road General" that was the store, I said hello and I think she nearly fainted, phones were for adults only in those days, if I wanted to talk to a friend, I walked to their house, if it was important, like a birthday party or something, the parents spoke and relayed the message. She asked what was the problem and I told her I was let to use the phone by the telephone man. She didn't believe me until she came outside and saw the gaggle at the base of the telephone pole and the very kind and friendly lineman, that was a regular customer of the store about 200 feet from the door.

The clouds were low today but not too low and the rain was not too wet either. I stood under the cedar and just felt the air and the rain and the trees. I saw a telephone pole and remembered my first phone call. I was back home.

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