Sunday, November 01, 2009

I grew up in a hardware store. My grandfather started it as a hay and feed store at the turn of the century and in the late 50's my father turned it into a wholesale contractors' supply business. But to me it was always a magic place, full of everything imaginable: penny nails, house paint, pyrex, light bulbs, and other wonders too numerous to mention. God, I loved that place...right up until the heartbreaking end. Once in a while I still find a local hardware store that is cluttered and smells wonderful and it makes me want to cry. On the left is grandpa and on the right, my father, when he still had hair, in the 1930's. He starting losing his hair in his 20's and I never knew him any way but bald. (But I digress.) We owned the building, which was built early in the 20th century, when it housed a dance hall on the second floor - with ticket window, a coat room and a stage for performances. The third floor was a big loft space that I would kill to have now. 180 was (and is) on the main street, in an urban area not far from the railroad station, away from the expensive shopping area of town. I suspect that my fascination with found objects, old buildings and graffiti as well as my urban sensibility (although I grew up in the 'burbs)came from my love for and memories of that hardware store and somewhat gritty neighborhood. Last week I read a review of a new restaurant in town -cuisine of Trinidad and was shocked to see that it was at 180. On Thursday night, after attending a wake around the corner, I suggested, with mixed feelings, that we try it for dinner. For 20 years, it has broken my heart to drive by that building which we no longer own --but I wanted to try that food. I am so glad we went. The food was delicious (akra fritter appetizer) followed by curry, Caribbean style. The interior of the space is no longer recognizable (unless you know it intimately as we do) and the former ugly laundromat that occupied it after us has been replaced by a bright, clean space where I could just feel the good karma. I feel that space is happy at last. In Jewish tradition, you walk around the block to signal the end of the mourning period and the beginning of moving on with your life. After 2 decades of mourning that building, I believe that meal was my walk around the block.

15 comments:

Brenda said...

What a lovely story Rayna. I feel your sense of place and attachment.

Del said...

Lovely story from your heart. Hope you make it into a quilt some day.

tiedyejudy said...

They say you can never go home, but it sounds like you just disproved that theory. I love old hardware stores! Used to have one in our town, and it always had great stuff, as well as a 'mouser' in residence, and a bowl of popcorn on the counter for the customers. They don't make 'em like that anymore...

Sujatha said...

Heart warming!!

I want to go home too, pls dont say "you can never go home"

Connie Rose said...

Wonderful story, Rayna, thanks for sharing it. I've always loved hardware stores, too. They are treasure troves for us artists!

Anonymous said...

Rayna, you've reduced me to sobs. I have struggled with my past for so long I finally had to move away from it physically to clear my head of constant reminders of both happy and sad past events. How nice that you've achieved HAPPY closure on this part of your past. My, we all have SUCH baggage, don't we. Debbie Bein

Gerrie said...

Aha! Now we know why you love stuff! This is sweet story. Mr C and I love hardware stores. For a time, it was our fantasy to buy one when he retired.

Eva said...

Rayna, this posting touched me! Not only because both my grandpas were merchants (my motherly granddad had a chemist store during the war, I never saw it), but because of my recent trips to places where I lived -- to show them to J and to try and see place and time from a different angle. Why does it break our hearts like this if we have to give up buildings, gardens, streets? Does it remind us of our own impermanence?

Dianne Hricko said...

It was always my mom's favorite fantasy that she would get to run a hardware store. That never came to be, but I certainly relate to your love for that lost aspect of our culture. I can smell it just reading your posting.

Gail P said...

Lovely story, a painful memory made right! Happy endings are often hard to find . . . thanks for sharing!

Approachable Art said...

Rayna, what a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it with us. :D

Natalya said...

i just love a hardware store like that! there's one in the town next to us, but sadly it slowly seems to be going upscale... wonderful story, thank you!

kathy said...

I echo the sentiments of everyone else, Rayna...what a great story and thanks so much for sharing your memories and the pictures, old and new.

Anonymous said...

A moving story, delicately and beautifully written.
Significant losses have fed your work in such a positive way, an inspiration to me.

Helene

Anonymous said...

/////very nice, cousina, we all share the memories of the store....

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