With the wonderful comfortable weather it is difficult to pull away from retirement, but the ‘to-do’ list still shows some purchases, so today is as good as any to strap on the gear and go to the Toy Store.
Now this isn’t the little boy Toy Store with the trains and model planes and little rubber soldiers, but the Big Boy Toy Store. Not the store where I go to get my ladies or the store where I take my ponies to be checked up or the Tummy Temple where I buy my sustenance, but the Big Boy Toy Store where there is wood and nails and screws and power tools or as Tim from “Tool Time” would say, “Ooh Ooh Oooh Ooh Oh”.
A little history, I was never much of a ‘shop’ guy. My dad was not a tinkerer or hobbyist and our tool selections were old and rusty. When I did find a need for a screw or bolt or some such weird item for a college project, I’d go to Pleasant’s Hardware which was a hole in the wall dark and dank store with bins of loose screws and bolts and all sorts of thing-a-ma-jigs. I never knew the proper name of what I was looking for but I could ask the old guys working there and they could immediately walk me to the spot and have total knowledge of how the item was sized, it’s purpose and any necessary additional tools needed. They just seemed to know. After that I bought a house and had to start to assembly my own toolbox. What was known as a ‘hardware store’ quickly became a ‘home improvement’ store where there were few selections and screws had to be bought in a package rather than just the one you need? The “Home Center” at the local mall had screwdrivers that broke and small hammers; absolute no knowledge of the ‘how-to’ instructions previously cherished. With the Reader’s Digest “DIY” books, I tried to self learn how to fix this and that and usually had the wrong tool or needed one additional part I didn’t know I needed. There was a true old-style hardware store up on Church Hill known as Harper’s that would have the unique and mostly outdated tools and items, but they went out of business. Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes became the normal one-stop-shop for everything anyone would ever need for home and garden. Folks in red or blue vest could direct you to the aisle of any assortment of pipes or boards or hammers or nails but the inventory had become too massive to comprehend.
A Lowes store was just up the street and was easy access. That would later be a downfall. Hechinger’s was further out west, but could be reached. The discovery of store credit cards and available delivery started the renovation and landscaping projects. Since then Lowes moved further in town, Hechinger’s and Pleasant’s closed. Still connected through the Internet and delivery Lowes is still my go-to Toy Store.
The best part of this adventure was to wander down paths, traveled hundreds of times but not recently, and notice the changes. Those people put up a fence, that house got a new coat of paint, a new brick wall or was it a replacement? It has been a long time since I’ve wandered this route. With lite traffic, it was easy to slowly roll and observe without fear for life and limb.
Crossing a questionable bridge I remember seeing built across the railroad and then a popular highway going south, the first surprise is a block away from my junior high was being demolished. A mini-strip shop of dentist and insurance but was protection on the night of the lightning bolts. What was a simple brick 50’s look was now becoming a pile of dust. Wonder what will be next?
On past row houses that leave little room for change but every new item I don’t remember catches my eye. Like many of our familiar paths, one street over can be completely different and a visual experience. Passing by memories of places and times and people and over some rough cobblestones I reach my destination without incident.
Lock up, change the shades for blurred vision then grab a rolling cart. Rather than just going by my list, I wandered the cement. Seems the cushions I tried to order last year are back. Good selection of garden stuff, but I think I already have it all as the mother rolling by is scolding her son for being a kid at the Toy Store. Drawn to the gloves, but I have enough, I find my first treasure. The tattooed girls looked interesting and inviting, but I was on a mission.
Like going into a museum of wood and metal, I glanced at all the purchases I’ve made over the years. One by one I find my items or at least reasonable facsimiles of what I had written but didn’t really need. For some reason we feel better when we purchase stuff we don’t really need. Past refrigerators, curtains, paint, plumbing and so on, this place is amazing.
The motive of this venture was to replace a hand sander that just seemed to stop working. There was no reason for it to just stop, but it did. Looked online as I do and found a cheap enough replacement but once on the floor in the area that was not easy to find, the display model was missing so I contemplated upgrading the model but being determined to have made this long trip, I would not give up. Moving some boxes around I found the last one. The model I was looking for. What a treasure.
The one item I could not find was a latch for my back gate. What I was looking for was U-shaped holder I had seen on a deck of a recent boat ride. It would be perfect to hold a 2x4 board, but I could find anything similar. One would think in a store this big with so much stuff, I could find this item? Being a fairly intelligent person with a creative mind, I rethink my original plan and find another possible solution to a non-problem. How about an eyehook big enough to slide a rebar in? I’ve got plenty and it makes engineering sense so I try that.
So bag up my goodies and try to return home without becoming a news story, I venture down a different path, yet the path I returned home to for years and years, a pass through Halloween decorations and screaming school kids and girls in plaid dresses. That would have been worth the price of admission.
Once back in the sanctuary, scratching off the list, one item missed notice. Not a big deals because there are several things to do before that item is needed. There is always something else to do, so keep it on the list.