I was driving through town the other day and started to think about all the places in town that aren’t what they used to be.
Before Walmart one hour photos and long before digital photography there was Hood Drugstore. Now it’s just an unused old building, but in my very young days it was one of my favorite places to go. It was where we took our film to get it developed, and I couldn’t wait for us to go pick up our little packages of pictures, which were often little squares and not the 4x6 prints that are most common today.
One year they had some of the cutest troll dolls for sale. They were stuffed, dressed for Easter Sunday and if I remember correctly they smelled like baby powder. I was pleasantly surprised when the Easter bunny brought the trolls to me in my basket that year.
You could also rent movies, in the form of VHS tapes, at Hood’s. We did on many occasions.
We also often rented movies at Pinky’s store in Limrock. I guess they’d probably pump your gas for you there. I can’t remember and it wouldn’t have mattered to me back then anyways, because I liked to go there for those movies. My favorite was “Little Monsters.” A few years back I tried to watch the movie and my adult self was appalled that I ever rented and watched that movie repeatedly as a small child.
In my memory Pinky would sometimes gift me a Snickers bar. Whether he did or not, I guess I’ll never really know for sure, but that’s the way I remember it.
The store turned from Pinky’s to Alley’s Country Corner to Peanuts, though I can’t remember in what order and maybe it was something else between there too. I ate a lot of sausage and biscuits and drank a lot of Yoohoo’s out of that little gas station, but sadly, like a lot of other places from my childhood it isn’t a thing anymore.
There was the skating rink back then too. What great joy that place and those old brown skates brought me. I was a good skater. It was the best place in the world for a birthday party, as was the old Pizza Hut. I don’t know if kids still have birthday parties like they used to, but when I was a kid I invited the entire class to the skating rink or wherever my party was, and I always made out like a bandit with Barbie dolls and five dollar bills.
Speaking of parties, the day Pizza Party USA closed its doors after a short stay was one of my childhood’s greatest miseries. I wasn’t one of those kids who got to go to Chuck E. Cheese. So when Pizza Party USA came to town I thought it was the best thing on earth. The pizza was so cheesy I almost choked on it, and the puppets and the arcade games were the things my elementary school dreams were made of.
For pizza, there was also Giovannis, which turned into Rafael’s. My mom and I ate the buffet at Rafael’s on many occasions and it was always delicious. If there is one thing you can easily know about me, it is that a big percentage of my memories include pizza and I never forget a good one.
I could go on and on about this. The old Jacks, which had great sausage and biscuits but gave me frozen chicken fingers once. The old Walmart, where they had the very best snack shop with Coca Cola or Cherry slushies and a photo booth, and my mom would always have them call my name over the speaker if she couldn’t find me. It was so embarrassing. Goody’s, where I liked to browse the discounted jewelry and felt rich if my mom bought me clothes from there. The old Food World, where kids could get a free sugar cookie from the bakery and my mom always bought me long johns. Jackson County Pool, where I braved the high dive and ate hot fries from the vending machine during breaks (Why do all of my memories include food, I don’t know.).
I have to wonder what places I now enjoy will someday be a thing of the past. And what foods will I remember along with them?
Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at email@example.com.