I had spent years listening to the stories revolving around that old majestic building and felt a knot build up in my stomach. The sweet wonderful man I was married to had tried to save the place but others had stood in his way at every turn.
I had been introduced to the store and the area around it over a quarter of a century ago. I had been listening to the stories for as long as well. No, not repeats of a few stories but hundreds of them. Some were so sad they would break your heart and others had left me laughing so hard it hurt. Each story had burned images in my brain that were like old movies that I often replayed in my head. Sometimes I would see or experience that would set the mental projector running and off the images would go again. I would see the array of characters who walked in and out of the doors to this social and economic center of the area at one time. The little bits of life brought together in a kaleidoscope of color merging, blending, and then falling apart as new ones entered the doors of that store and others exited. Of course those stories had ended when the store closed its doors for the last time in the early seventies.
The store hadn’t just suddenly closed its doors one day because of some epic issue. No, it had died a slow and quiet death as more and more customers took their shopping to bigger and better places. As the roads improved and bigger and cheaper places opened in larger towns the small little country stores lost their place in our society. They couldn’t compete. Now the building that had once been the center of the social network was coming down piece by piece over several weeks and not with a big bang. It was like watching a loved one go slowly into that night.
“Let’s go.” My husband couldn’t stand to watch anymore and headed to the truck. I silently followed him and we turned toward home.
It was several months before we made our way back to the old store. Actually I should say to where the old store had been. Nothing, and I mean nothing remained. Not only had the store come down but all the wonderful trees, most over fifty years old and some a lot older. The tall straight persimmon trees that had been so prolific in the production of their fruit that had produced some of the sweetest nectar I had ever tasted were also gone. Now there was nothing but open plowed up dirt ready for planting. The grass and trees that had once graced that little corner of the small almost forgotten tiny town nothing more than a bittersweet memory. We didn’t even stop.
For those of you who might read this and think what a sad little story, for me and my husband, a heart breaking fact. I try to hold back the tears that come every time I think of what has been lost.