Recollection of the old neighborhood store.
Mr. Daniels’ Store
When I was a boy I never thought I would grow up and become an old man who is a lot like Mr. Daniels.
Mr. Daniels ran the neighborhood store. It was a small store but had all of the fascinating things stores had in those days including a hand cranked bologna slicer, a glass case filled with candy and double bubble gum, and a cooler full of RC colas and NEHI orange drinks.
Sitting high on a case near the back of the store was a most interesting novelty; it was a duck that continuously dipped his beak into a cup of water then lifted his head as if to swallow a sip. We couldn’t touch and were not allowed a close look. “It’s not a toy,” insisted Mr. Daniels “but a scientific demonstration of thermodynamics.”
None of us knew what thermodynamics meant but it delivered a definite Gee Whiz factor to our imaginations. One kid suggested that someday it would surely lead to the invention of a perpetual motion machine.
Beside and a little farther off the street than the store was Mr. Daniels’ shop. He made things from wood and repaired items around the house. Sometimes he worked in the shop during store hours. He closed up and hung out a scribbled sign that said “In the Shop.” Everyone knew that during those times he would open the store to fill important needs, and then return to his shop tasks afterwards. I learned the hard way one day that nine-year-old youngsters never have important needs.
From my quick looks inside I saw many objects in the shop that I couldn’t imagine him ever using; these were no doubt remnants of his past life that he stored away hoping to get back to them someday.
One very different piece captured my complete attention, his tombstone - complete except for an inscription to show his date of death. I often wondered who would take care of that when the time came. I mused that perhaps he already knew, that somehow old people were told the date of their passing but were required to keep it a secret; maybe he planned to complete the inscription himself, just in time.
At times Mrs. Daniels would sit in the back of the store. She was very quiet and I never saw her walk. I think she was in a wheelchair. One day she died and the store was closed for several days. It’s awkward now to realize that my sadness was because the store was closed – not because of her passing.
Mr. Daniels and his store are long gone now; all that remains are imperfect recollections from a time before my dreams and ambitions were either realized or finally abandoned – leftover treasures from days gone by, stored away with no hope of someday getting back to them.