I meant to write about something else today.
Specifically, I meant to give some tips on “flirting” because apparently there is some confusion out there in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story about what “flirting” looks like.
But then I read that Sears is closing its store on 800 South in Salt Lake City and wow. I was surprised by my reaction, i.e. that the news makes me SAD even though the only thing that’s brought me to the store location in recent history is tacos. A lot of tacos, actually. So many tacos. Burritos and chicken quesadillas sometimes, too, but yeah. Mostly tacos.
Maybe I’ll get around to the flirting story next week.
Meanwhile, I hope you’ll indulge me as I stroll down memory lane.
My dad taught and coached at Granite High School until I was 6 years old. Like a lot of teachers, he also took on extra work to make ends meet. One of those part-time jobs was selling shoes at Sears on 800 South.
Sometimes our mother would take my brother and me there to watch him in action. It was always nice to see Dad work his special Sears shoe-selling magic, of course, but what I really loved were the goldfish. Not the crackers. Real ones. You could find them swimming around in their tanks on the goldfish aisle.
It’s true! Once upon a time you could buy goldfish at Sears in America!
There were gold goldfish at the 800 South store, of course, but the ones I liked the best were the black goldfish with those big old bug eyes. Our mom would tell us about the goldfish she’d had growing up in Big Piney, Wyo. How cold was Big Piney, i.e. “The Icebox of the Nation”? Cold enough to freeze the water in goldfish bowls, she’d say.
Did the fish die? we’d ask.
No, not counting the one that accidentally went down the drain, she’d say. Once the water warmed up, the fish would start swimming around and around in their little bowls again.
Then my brother and I would buy a few new goldfish ourselves, although somehow they never seemed to live as long as our mother’s goldfish, not counting the one that accidentally went down the drain.
Here’s what else I remember about that Sears on 800 South—the way it smelled, like popcorn and tires. The scent reminded me a little of my grandpa’s Big Piney gas station where the locals gathered to shoot the breeze and buy my brother and me cold glass bottles of Squirt out of the vending machine whenever we visited.
Later, when my husband and I moved to Salt Lake City we shopped at the 800 South location for tools and Kenmore appliances and Christmas ornaments (?!) whenever the holidays rolled around. I bought our family’s first Nativity set there with its thatched stable and crudely painted plaster of Paris figurines. Whenever I unwrap and set them out on our fireplace mantel all these years later, I am reminded of who our family was then — hopeful and harried and really, really young.
Which, I think, explains my reaction to the announcement that Sears is closing its 800 South location. Times change and a community’s needs change along with them. Still. Any time a business or a building shuts its doors, another chapter of a city’s life, as well as the lives of its people, has ended.
And yes. That always makes me a little bit sad.