Déjà Vu All Over Again!

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 09:18 AM.

            “How is the middle Colbert boy today?” I wasn’t dead certain positive Mr. Abernathy knew my first name but he got me in the right place, in the right family. I’d drop by his hardware store from time to time to look over the toys down in the basement. “Anything special I can show you?” If I thought it was neat that the owner of the business was giving a ten year old his undivided attention, it didn’t register on me. It was pretty common. Mr. Abernathy was about as friendly as they come.

            “No sir. I’m just looking.” Both of us understood that shopping was all I could do. I didn’t have the money to actually buy anything.

            ’Course, I didn’t realize at the time that wonderful memories don’t cost one red cent.  

            Billy Bradley’s father ran the Golden Rule right across Broadway Street from Abernathy’s Hardware, close to where the old bank stood. It was a five and dime that was crowded with back to school items, assorted candies, Tinker Toys, cap pistols and Lone Ranger masks. It was another fun place to “look around”. Mr. Bradley treated me just like a paying customer. He let me browse for hours. I could pick up the rubber baseballs and test the seams. I could pull out the spyglass and bring the bamboo picture frames hanging on the back wall “up close”. When I got a little older he hired me to take his advertising flyers door to door. It was a favorite place to “shop”.

            And the memories are still alive of the Clove Gum smell, the big glass windows and the friendlessness of the staff and customers.

            Mr. Howard Freeman owned a men’s store over on Cedar Avenue. As I grew into the dating stage his place became more and more important. I couldn’t take Jane Hill to the movie wearing blue jeans and a tee shirt! And I had real money made from picking cotton, unloading lumber or working at the swimming pool burning a hole in my pocket. Mr. Howard seemed more interested in Friday’s night’s ballgame than selling me a Penguin sweater with the suede leather elbow patches. And he loved my older brother. “I haven’t seen Leon in a while. Is he staying out of trouble?”

            You had to do a bit of socializing before you got down to business at Freeman’s Menswear. And it was the same all around the square. Folks took time to talk, catch up a mite and enjoy the moment whether you were the seller or the “sellee”.

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