Appropriately titled and appropriately delayed (it’s always hard to let go of the past), it’s the final day of Nostalgia Week! Today, let’s take a trip to do some shopping at soon-to-be memories stores of my youth.
Long before CD’s were sold in your supermarket, heck, long before they were even called “vinyl shops”, there were plain old record stores.
Like its cousin the book store, these were mostly unadorned stores (the posters and t-shirts came later) that had tables with dividers and thousands of records, 45’s to 33’s (which referred to their revolution speed). These were further separated by cheap paper or perhaps cardboard dividers with the names of the artists. Over time, these dividers would flop over as people fingered through the throngs of records.
Those of you who live in the pristine world of plastic encased little discs don’t know the pleasure of these big albums with their big art. Plus, you had this bulky turntable with a little needle on an arm and the eventual scratch that would catch the needle and repeat a section over and over (hence the term “like a broken record”). Record hunting was like antiquing, where you could possibly find the “first” album ever released for a favorite artist. Try doing that with your CD’s (assuming you don’t just download the songs now).
You might think this is a thing of the 50’s, but there were plenty around when I was growing up in the 60’s. Not the prefab things they have today for the “nostalgic” feel. These were the originals, with sticky vinyl bench seats and a soda fountain behind the counter. If you wanted a real malt, here is where you came to get it. The food was usually classic American fare: hamburger, hot dog, grilled cheese, BLT.
Of course, the best thing about these places for a kid: the spinny seats at the counter. It’s a wonder I wasn’t too dizzy to eat!
We talked about this earlier in the week (and if you didn’t start at the beginning, foo on you), the classic neighborhood drug store. I couldn’t find a picture of mine, so I chose one that looks almost like it.
These little shops, they were not chains then, had your basic gamut: pharmacy, small food stuffs, reading materials (newspapers, magazines, some books and comics!) and a good supply of candy. There might also be some emergency clothing (socks, tidy whiteys, etc.). Usually the same person was behind the counter all day, every day. Perhaps a family member might fill in when stocking needed to be done.
My favorite at the store was the spinner rack full of comic books. It was always a test to see how many I could get through before the inevitable “this isn’t a library” would come my way. Fortunately, I bought all my comics there (along with my candy and baseball cards), so the tone was never threatening.
Sigh. You must have known this would be in here.
Sadly, even the “sell-out” bookstores (the ones that desperately tried to retain business by adding coffee bars, cd’s, dvd’s and gobs more non-book stuff) are fading fast. Still, if you’re diligent enough (and willing to travel hundreds of miles), you can unearth a still-remaining classic book store.
As much as I love wandering through the towering shelves of books (many of which I will likely never read nor be interested in reading), I have a deep abiding affection for book stores because of working in and managing one during my latter teen years. More to the point, it was a used book store that made its business by trading books (bring in 2 and take 1) and charging a nominal fee. The business was coffee can accounting (look it up) and I suspected it served merely as a base of operations for the owner’s more lucrative dealings (in what might still be called “publishing”, but not perhaps with approval by the Moms with kids who came in).
It was a fun time and perhaps the only time in my life up until my writing career that I totally enjoyed my job. Beyond the endless hours available for reading hundreds of books, there was also a good many hours discussing books with customers. In a used bookstore, rarely is anyone in a hurry.
So ends our travels down my nostalgic reminisces. Hopefully you found some echoes to your past or some insight into your parents and older friends. Perhaps I’ll head out for a soda pop and then move on to another subject. After all, I wouldn’t want my blog to start sounding like a broken record.