Go-Fish or Faux-Fish?

 

Walgreens is an impulse shopper’s dream. Like CVS (formerly Eckerds), they’re far more than a “drug store”. They understand people will run out of toothpaste, get a sudden craving for chocolate or need a sheet of yellow construction paper even when they don’t have a prescription to be filled.  When that  happens, the store’s more than happy to help.

At 9 p.m. on a Thursday night, when I’m suddenly in need of this or that, I’d much rather run over to Walgreens than head for a grocery or discount store.  For one thing, it’s closer.  For another, it reminds me of the variety stores I so loved as a child. As far as I know Walgreens isn’t stocking metal cricket-clickers or wax lips, but their end-caps are straight out of the 1950s.

You can count on the staples being there: chewing gum, Almond Roca, batteries and Chapstick. There will be a few seasonal items – fleece throws in winter, flip-flops and straw hats in summer. Always, there are toys. Before Easter, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a wind-up chicken that clucks and lays jelly bean eggs. Halloween has its creaking crypts, Christmas its stockings and candy.  Now and then, you’ll find inexplicable treasures.

Two years ago, in the spring, I was cooling my heels in the checkout line when a flash of orange caught my eye. It was a fish, swimming for all it was worth inside a tiny bowl. It wasn’t alone. An extraordinarily blue friend was circling in hot pursuit, and both were giving me the eye.  Beyond the pair of apparently crazed plastic fish, six tiny plastic bowls lined the counter. Each held one or two plastic sea-creatures – crabs, lobster and more varieties of fish – crawling, swirling and climbing over one another as though possessed.  

Mesmerized, I asked the clerk (who was watching me watch the fish), “How do they do that?”  ‘I dunno,” she said. “I know it takes batteries, and the manager gets, like, really mad at us if we forget to turn ‘em off at night, ’cause then the batteries die and they have to change ‘em.” I picked up a box that claimed to contain One Bowl One Base Two Assorted Fish and looked at it. From what I could tell, a pair of AA batteries and some water would do the trick.  I had both.

Ten minutes and $3.95 later, I also had my very own Pet-Quarium, complete with a clown fish, a parrotfish, and a “textured rock base”.  I headed home, to see if I could persuade my fishies to swim.

It wasn’t hard.  The two AA batteries tucked into the bottom of the base, the bowl was filled ONLY to the INDENTATION for fish to function properly THANK YOU and two drops of dishwashing liquid were swirled into the water. A little experimentation revealed the Pet-Quarium people knew their business. Too much water or no dishwashing soap meant a serious lack of action. The fish simply bumped along the bottom instead of swimming happily around their bowl.

Once I had the bowl up and running, I sat it on the window ledge next to my desk.  After a day or two, I no longer heard the faint hum of the motor or the clicking of the fish against the boundaries of their world. It was rather strange. I knew vibrations from the base were making the fish move, but it was easy to be tricked by the illusion of life. 

They certainly fooled the cat. She’d sit for hours, watching them swim.  One night, I woke to plaintive murmurings in the doorway.  Obviously distressed, DixieRose led me to the living room, where I discovered the problem.  Like a forgetful teen-age store clerk, I’d left the fish “on” too long, and the batteries had died. The fish weren’t floating at the top as good dead fish do – they’d sunk to bottom, where they lay motionless in their plastic sand. When I put in new batteries and flipped the switch, the fish did their thing, the cat purred as loudly as the motor, and I went back to bed.

One afternoon, glancing at my motionless fish, I realized I felt a little sorry for them.  Bringing them to life with a flip of the switch, I watched as they circled the bowl. On impulse, I flicked the switch off. They fell to the bottom and glared at me from their fake plastic seabed.  “You silly things,” I said. “You’re not real fish. You’re faux-fish. You don’t do anything unless someone gives you a nudge.  See?”  I flipped the switch for a third time, and vibrations rising through the water stirred the fish back into action. But it only was action, not life. No matter how often I changed their water or how carefully I added the drops of soap, those fish weren’t going to move on their own.

Contemplating my poor, awkward bits of fish-shaped plastic, it was clear they had nothing in common with the first parrotfish I met while learning to dive. It seemed as though every hue of the Carribean had been painted onto that one extraordinary creature: azure, turquoise, cyan and sapphire – all brushed with magenta and lavender, touched with emerald and highlighted with yellows as pure as sunlight.

In fact, that Caribbean fish seemed lit from within. Glowing and pulsing with life, it set its own course through the forests of coral and stone, coming and going as it pleased through its watery neighborhood.  No one needed to throw a switch to make that fish “go”. It was a go-fish by nature, a chip off the old pelagic block, a creature perfectly attuned to its environment and constrained only by the limits of its nature.

The parrotfish was only the beginning, for the variety and abundance of life on a healthy coral reef is astonishing.  There is beauty, of course. But there also is curiosity, sociability and responsiveness. When the  Sergeant Majors appear, flocking to bread crumbs like pigeons in a park, they seem as attuned to one another as a flock of birds, wheeling and spinning through the water in great, flickering waves. They also seem to like divers, and will swim alongside humans with no apparent anxiety, casting half-humorous glances at their lumbering companions as if to say, “This is our life. Isn’t it great?”  And indeed, it is.

Today, I don’t turn on my Pet-Quarium quite so often. The cat’s lost interest, as cats do; a bit of the novelty’s worn off for both of us. In the depths of winter or the unbearable heat of summer, they’re still a fun substitute for the real thing. But in a season of open windows, on fragrant spring evenings or cicada-heavy summer nights resonant with the slap and shimmy of mullet, the sounds and memories of real fish always satisfy far more deeply than faux fish.  

Remembering Caribbean pools, the Sergeant Majors schooling over the reefs and the pouting, irridescent parrotfish, the quick flash of yellowtail and the grace-filled flights of angelfish, I think about the gulf that separates reality from artifice, the “go fish” from the “faux fish” sitting on my desk.  Sometimes I turn and look into the kitchen, where an old picture sits propped next to the coffee pot.  A little tattered, still in its original frame, it looks much as it did when it graced a corner of my father’s desk.  It sat there in my earliest years, and it was there at the end of his life, and sometimes, when the faux fish are quiet and the ceaseless obligato of a million silvery minnows washes through the window, I sit between two worlds, reading words enough for a lifetime:

 

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  1. Sweet post, Linda. Wonderful writing, beautiful photos, and a perfect-ending quote. One question, though: Did you really talk to the faux fish? And was DixieRose truly concerned when they appeared to be lifeless? (Okay, two questions.)

    bronxboy,

    Of course I really talked to the faux-fish! I’m not fully caffeinated yet, but here’s a short list of things I’ve been known to talk to: my car, lizards, tv commentators, every sort of bird, plants, paintings, rocks, boats. I talk softly, though, so as not to arouse suspicion. ;-)

    And yes, Dixie was concerned. She’ll wake me if she’s discovered a bug to hunt, too. I suppose she doesn’t want me to miss out on the fun!

    That quotation is good, isn’t it? My dad started at Maytag with a high school education and worked his way up. I suspect he knew a thing or two about swimming against the stream.

    Linda

  2. I was so disappointed on my visit to Houston to see that Eckerds was gone. I bet the faux fish would fool my kitties for about an hour.

    symonsez,

    I made one trip through the CVS that’s across the street from “my” Walgreens. It was too spare, too organized, too – what? Upscale, maybe. There wasn’t a cluttered corner in the place. No fun at all.

    Hard to say if Dixie was fooled for that long, or if she just figured as long as she’s stuck indoors and can’t get to the birds she’s really interested in, she might as well watch fish. Of course, it’s always possible I’ve read Eliot’s “The Naming of Cats” to her so many times her mind just gets lost in a rapt contemplation of – Faux Fish!

    Linda

  3. In the movie ‘The Graduate’, Dustin Hoffman is Ben, the new grad, lost in the present, unsure about the future. In a party, one of his parent’s friends gave him a one word advice: “Plastic”. That was during the 60’s, and as they say, the rest is history.

    But I’m just surprised that these plastic fish can sell even today. You’ve suggested a good use for them, as decoys to give real fish some exercise, or, to amuse the cat. Your words of wisdom at the end just sums it all up. Make waves without batteries is the proof of life… even just ripples.

    Arti,

    I’d forgotten “The Graduate” until your wonderful post about Bernini’s “Corpus”. Now I realize I’d forgotten the “plastic” reference, too. I think it’s time for me to watch that film again!

    Surprised these fish can sell? They sold some to me, didn’t they?! Actually, I’ve been told since buying them that one of the biggest markets for such things is in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, where many of the residents can’t get out to enjoy the “real world” beyond their walls.
    I’ve noticed more and more large acquariums and aviaries with finches being installed, but even those require the ability to go to them. The little artificial fish bowls and motion-activated singing birds are extra stimulation in a shrinking world.

    But yes, the larger point is the one you discovered. Sitting around waiting for someone to “flip our switch” certainly wastes a lot of life!

    Linda

  4. Linda,

    I miss you too much. This just applies in so many factors in life that I have a hard time trying to pin point one.

    Sometimes, humans are fooled just like your cat, unable to see what’s real and what’s not.

    Lex,

    That’s it, exactly. There’s reality, and there’s artifice, and many of our troubles come from not being able to distinguish one from the other.

    But you know, I have wondered about this: if DixieRose thinks the fish are real, why hasn’t she tipped over the bowl, trying to get to them? When there are birds at the feeder outside the window, she’ll hunker down as though hunting and then lunge at them. She certainly knows she can’t get through the glass, but it doesn’t stop her from trying. She knows she could get to the fish, but she doesn’t even try. Interesting. Who knows the mind of a cat? ;-)

    Thanks so much for stopping by – it’s always a delight to see you!

    Linda

  5. So far I haven’t found a Walgreens clone here in Panama. There was one within walking distance of my place in Fort Lauderdale so naturally it was a frequent stop. You could tell the changing of the seasons MONTHS before the real thing. Christmas displays in October for instance. And I was always glad when Easter was over so those damned Peeps were no longer available. They’re addictive.

    I’m pretty good at resisting impulse buying. My roommate, Kevin, on the other hand was the kind of person the faux fish manufacturers dream about. Depending on the season he’d return with battery-powered turkeys and Santas, singing reindeer, whatever he could find. Thank God he never brought home one of those singing bass.

    Congratulations on another well-crafted post.

    Richard,

    Uh – you do know they have Peeps for all seasons now? I know there are Christmas Peeps (snowmen, trees), Valentine Peeps (obvious) and Halloween Peeps (pumpkins and who knows what else). I’m not sure if they have Back-to-School Peeps or Southwestern Peeps, but I’ll bet there’s a market. Can you imagine jalapeno-shaped Peeps with a dusting of red pepper in the coating? Someone would buy them.

    I’ve got a friend whose kids started giving him those battery-operated Christmas novelties years ago. Kevin’s singing reindeer, that sort of thing. My favorite is a battery-operated Frank Sinatra singing “White Christmas”. The crazy thing stands two feet tall. He’s got a mic and looks a little off-balance. Perfect.

    I agree with you, though. Those bass are gruesome. Do you suppose one day they’ll have a battery-operated blogger? ;-)

    Thanks for the kind words – I do appreciate them.

    Linda

  6. Love this! I miss those old five-and-dimes; they had everything. And real, friendly people to boot!
    Thank you for once again reminding us of what we have, what we’ve made, and what we stand to lose. Keep swimming upstream!

    Those faux fish are cute, though. Can think of one feline person who, lacking Miss Dixie’s dignity, would be honed in on that plastic aquarium trying to determine how to get the fish out without getting her paws wet ;)

    ds,

    Of course you know about the Vermont Country Store, it being practically in your backyard and all. (Well, from my perspective, anyway.) And there is a wonderful place called Variety Fair 5 & 10 in Houston, on the edge of Rice University in a small shopping district. It was started in 1948, when I was two, and it’s been there since, a family establishment that’s the energizer bunny of stores!

    I always try to stick with family-owned, or local, or small, well-established chain. There’s a Gibson’s Discount in Kerrville, Texas, that I go to every time I’m in town. You can get everything there – if I need a weirdly sized oil lamp chimney or muslin tea towels or an aluminum flour sifter, I know I can find it there.

    I can’t believe Dixie hasn’t tipped it over yet, but she mostly just looks. Now and then she’ll reach out a paw, but it’s desultory, and you can tell she doesn’t really care. ;-)

    Linda

  7. I’m still working on the plaque. When I got my 35′ “M.V. Link” there was a very common picture of the Christ shepherding a mariner through troubled waters hanging in the wheelhouse. Though I lean toward the Tao rather than Christian belief I could not remove the picture.

    We went through some whacky weather together! There were times (at least once) I actually prayed.

    Ken,

    Swimming against the stream’s never easy, and there certainly are times when just being in the middle of the stream’s no picnic. I’ve known a shrimper or two who responds to the annual blessing of the fleet much as you did to the picture – they’re not what you’d call people of faith by any stretch, but they decorate their boats and line up for the blessing along with everyone else. I don’t think it’s cynical bet-hedging at all – there’s just something appealing about the ritual and the reminder of community ties before heading off to sea.

    I like your phrase, “wacky weather”. It brings an image or two to mind immediately. There are other ways to describe it. ;-)

    Linda

  8. Speaking of Walgreens, this story aired on NPR the day after you posted your essay:

    “Walgreens is piloting several food centers in Chicago after Mayor Daley approached the chain about helping end “food deserts” — areas bereft of grocery stores and food options. Walgreens is now selling fresh produce and light perishable groceries in low-income and/or black communities in Chicago.”

    And, since I know you strive for precision in your writing (a quality I very much admire), you’ll want to correct the spelling of “sergeant”. It a wacky word, of course, and you’d think it would be enough just to remember the “a”. Still, ya gotta love English.

    Al Cyone,

    I’ve not heard of “food deserts” – although as soon as you described them, I remembered being in a few myself. It’s a fact that the addition of produce, eggs and dairy products can improve a diet tremendously. I’m really glad to hear Walgreens has taken this step. It’s a nice example of good corporate citizenship.

    As for “sergeant”, I’m going to have to plead three decades of living next door to Sargent Beach in Sargent, Texas, as the probable cause of my error. I’ve been going there for years. In this case, familiarity bred misspelling! Thanks for noticing and correcting. (“Sergeant” still looks so wrong, I’ll probably never get it right!)

    Linda

  9. Well no wonder I like you so much – one Linda to another!

    I love wandering through Walgreens – we now have something called Drug Mart which is even cheesier and has all kinds of weird junk – I sooooo want the fake fish – it would drive the Golden Destroyer crazy and I live for stuff like that. Seriously you are a very talented writer and I love your blog.

    Hugs! the other Linda

    Linda,

    I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me until now – another phrase for what we’re talking about is “general store”, and that’s very much what Walgreens is. Granted, they’re not so general you’re going to be able to get plumbing supplies there, but they do pretty well. Mine does have tin buckets and decorative chain, so they’re trying.

    The “Golden Destroyer” – perfect! The very funniest combo, though, is inanimate. One of the bloggers I read has posted a pic of a tomato that looks like a cat. Truly. I want that tomato. Can’t you just see it, sitting there watching the faux fish? Sometimes I worry about myself. ;-)

    Linda

  10. I think I definitely need to send you my Kitty Tomato! Your story of faux fish reminds me a teeny bit of when I asked my husband what would be the best plant to put on my desk at school, and he immediately responded, “Silk.”

    I’m not good at growing things.

    I’m not much better at keeping fish alive.

    But, I will go to Walgreens with you any day of the week. I, too, love that store.

    Bellezza,

    Having grown up in the age of plastic flowers, I’m a great admirer of the silk variety. It used to be that fake flowers were so obviously fake it was laughable. Then, technology and skill went to work, and we moved from “fake” to “faux”. Recently I bumped into some silk geraniums I had to touch to identify as faux. It’s really quite amazing. The only place I see plastic flowers any more is in cemeteries and in those roadside memorials for accident victims, where they work perfectly.

    The urge to just poke around in a certain kind of store is a strong one. Now and then I stop into Walgreens during the day and discover the bus from the assisted living place across the street has brought a group over. There’s nothing quite like a dozen 80-year-olds giggling like school girls over risque birthday cards or looking through the “seasonal” decorations. I hope Walgreens still is there when we reach that stage!

    Linda

  11. It was just the other day I was meandering around Walgreen’s thinking it was about as close as we get to the days of the “dime store” or “variety store,” a place where you could get just about whatever you needed (or didn’t need, but wanted anyway!) I just wish they didn’t feel the need to put one on every dang corner! At least they do around here, anyway.

    As for faux-fish, I’ve never been tempted. I can see how they could be entertaining for a cat, at least until the cat wises up…which could take a short or long time, depending on the cat.

    And I love your dad’s framed inspirational quote. I’m not good at swimming upstream. If I had been a fish, I’d probably have been long gone by now!

    Becca,

    It’s not hard to find a Walgreens, that’s for sure. I can think of four that are more or less within striking distance, and two are very close. On the other hand, they really are neighborhood stores, and I often run into neighbors I know or see the same people in the store. The clerks are generally friendly and helpful, too. I like all of that.

    I wish Dad was still around so I could tell him how much I understand now of what he went through, and how much I appreciate what he did for us. It’s been 30 years since he died, and I was too young and inexperienced to begin to understand some of the realities of his life. He was a real upstream-swimmer, that’s for sure, and a wonderful model to follow.

    Linda

  12. I have fish in my aquarium(s), the real deal: pearl gouramis, cherry barbs, marble mollies, a siamese fighting fish, two algae-eaters…and I suppose I waste quite a lot of my time watching them.

    I make up stories about them, feel sad when they die, feed them and resolve their fights, and they are the first things I see each morning, as well as the last things I see at night.

    It is nice to see that faux-fish can give rise to as much rumination as real ones!

    Damyanti,

    I know so little about real aquariums – I had heard of mollies and the siamese fighting fish but had to google the others. The pearl gouramis are especially beautiful – I suspect I’d spend a good bit of time watching them, too. I don’t know that I would think of it as wasting time, though. It certainly ranks far, far above most television-watching or passing on of internet jokes as a worthy pastime!

    I love the thought of you resolving their fights, too. I can just see you dipping one out to spend an hour in a separate bowl – a kind of fishy “time out”. At least mine seem to get along, and they’re just as useful for making up stories!

    Linda

  13. How skillfully you have woven the living and the inanimate, the mundane and the glorious, into this thoughtful post.

    I’m so grateful that you didn’t bring home a Chia Pet.

    charlespaolino,

    And I just had a wonderful laugh! A Chia Pet, indeed. The only thing a Chia Pet brings to mind is an expression I used to hear from my mother:
    “Don’t just sit there like a lump on a log”. Well, that, and a mental image of Richard Simmons.

    As for the weaving process, I’m not a huge fan of Blake, but do appreciate the relevance of these lines:

    To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour

    Linda

  14. What a wonderful post (as always) on so many levels — but I have to say two things in particular — maybe three.

    First, the photos are fabulous (but I’d love to see Dixie Rose watching the fish!). Which leads me to…

    I think I need me “one of them there things” for Mr. Gypsy Rose! and finally, a story to share —

    Eons ago, remember the Billy Bob fish that sang “Don’t worry, Be Happy” when you walked by? His head would pop off the plaque and his mouth would move.

    Well, I got one of those in a holiday white elephant gig — and would put it on the floor where Stimpy would walk by it. It would turn to him, sing his song and Stimpy would be captivated. Till one day the gig was up. He’d pass by without a glance — not unlike Dixie Rose and the fish.

    I love Walgreens too. It’s really a great store!

    Jeanie,

    I tried to get that pic of Dixie and the fish, but she’s not so cooperative as Gypsy. I can get occasional good photos of her, but only when she decides to allow it. I actually stopped by Walgreens yesterday to see if they might have more Pet-Quariums in stock, but like so many of their treasures, they seem to be “impulse buys” for the corporation! Some buyer sees something that tickles their fancy, orders 250,000 and when they’re gone, they’re gone. A friend whose son’s a manager for a midwest Walgreens say pet pillows are the thing now. I haven’t a clue what that’s about, but I hope they take batteries ;-)

    I do remember those singing fish. Terrible. But Stimpy’s story proves the old truth again – we become blind to a good bit in life, just because we get used to it. That’s worth an extra thought or two today, as well!

    Linda

  15. Those cricket clickers in the 5 and 10 store! I had forgotten!

    Well, I listened to this entry with the astuteness of your cat watching those little Walgreens fish. Loved it. Wasn’t sure where it was going – didn’t care. And I didn’t know those certain fish were called Sergeant Majors – I love to watch them – stood in the NOLA aquarium and watched them. And really? they’ll swim with us? I cannot imagine but would be so delirious to have it happen, I’d be wanting to laugh which really, underwater would be a lousy idea. Ah, but the magic of it. You made me laugh out loud with their imagined comment….

    Hey, the artwork in that framed quote also rings a “nostalgic” bell – I have to go back and click on it and see if the artist shows. Wonderful piece, that. A treasure. And a treasure shared…well, thanks, and hugs!

    oh,

    I’d never explored the source of the quotation on that plaque, or the artist, for that matter. You just have to love the internet…

    As it turns out, the source of the quotation is a woman named Maurine Hathaway – only her last name is shown on the artwork. She and Edgar Guest often were featured on pieces produced by the Buzza Company. Their lithographs apparently were quite popular, although Kovel’s and the woman who wrote about them for About.com (linked above) called them “sappy sentiments”. Humph. What do they know?

    Beyond all that, I found another tidbit you’ll love. When I did a search for the first line of the verse, I found it as the epigraph for Eugenie Seifer Olson’s The Pajama Game! So there are at least a couple of ways my daddy’s plaque could be jogging your memory – what fun to discover all this!

    And I did have this random thought… One of the basic differences between faux fish and go fish is that you never know where the live ones are going! ;-)

    Linda

  16. Aha! You nailed it! Thanks for your research and mention of Edgar Guest! It goes back to a picture that was on the wall in my room years ago.
    So, once on an Edgar Guest web page, I typed in the first (and only) line of a poem on that picture that YOURS reminded me of and voila! there it was. Wonderful! It’s a long story but I loved the picture..with the (E.Guest) poem on it that began “Welcome, Guest! and Howdy do – this fine room belongs to you…”

    I know, maybe corny or sentimental as your About.com writer mentioned, but I loved that plaque/picture. And now I know the author of it!

    Funny what triggers memory and how so many things are (beautifully) connected. And all inspired by seeing your fish plaque-picture here in this entry!
    Hugs, Oh

    Oh,

    If I had some artistic skill (which I really don’t) I’d draw a picture of one of the newly discovered critters of the world – the Inveterate Link-Hopper!
    It is amazing what we can find, and how easily. Now, here’s my question. Do you suppose Edgar Guest had a plaque in HIS room with the saying: “Welcome, Guest! and Howdy do – this fine room belongs to you”? :-)

    I’m glad we solved your mystery so easily – enjoy the memory, if the plaque itself isn’t still around.

    Linda

  17. Marvelous post! The mention of the Variety Fair 5 & 10 sent my mind spinning on a nostalgia trip of the first order. In summer of 1973, between my sophomore and junior year at UH and before I married in August, I worked at Craig’s Women’s Wear across the street from the five-n-dime. I loved to wander through there on my lunch half-hour and once a week I’d pick up a little something for my intended who worked a few streets over at the Jack-in-the-box on Kirby. Whether it was a bottle of bubble stuff or a matchbox car, he always loved the ‘surprise.’ More fun than the prize in a box of Cracker Jack! ;-)

    Thank you for your lovely writing. I wandered over after reading one of your comments at Bayou Woman.

    Isn’t internet hopping great?!

    musingegret,

    We may have met. That same summer, I was living in Favrot Hall at the Texas Medical Center and working at the UT Department of Surgery. I used to wander into Craig’s from time to time to see what was on the rack! I had coffee with a friend at Croissant Brioche about a month ago. The Village has changed, of course – I believe “yuppified” is the word – but the charm remains, as does Variety Fair. ;-)

    I’m on a bit of a nostaligia trip myself just now. Thanks so much for stopping by, and thanks especially for reminding me what a truly small world it can be. Isn’t it funny that we were in Houston at the same time, but met “on the Bayou”?

    Linda

  18. On Linda, that is wild about you popping into Craig’s that summer. Do you remember Donna with the yard of straight sandy hair down to her waist? She worked in the Jr’s department where you probably shopped. I was over to the left selling stockings and handbags to the ‘little ol’ ladies of Bellaire and The Village. OMG, I’m now practically a little ol lady myself! (How come I don’t feel like one!!)
    Anyway, thank you for the reply and reminding me of things I’d not thought about in **decades**.
    becca in austin

    • musingegret,

      Those little old ladies are still there – but of course that wouldn’t include us! The gentrification drives me crazy, but at least a few places still are there. I still drive in for a morning at Croissant Brioche now and then – so much better than Starbucks!

      Linda

  19. Just a few years ago the local Duckwalls closed in the small Kansas town where I work. Matter of fact quite of few of these dime stores closed in Kansas around the same time. Duckwalls was always a fun place to shop.

    I remember seeing fish as you’ve described while snorkeling over the reefs at Okinawa. Sure was a lot of fun. Sometimes I would snorkel all by myself out in the ocean with no one around. Now I haven’t even seen the ocean in over 20 years. But I do have some good memories.

    • Preston,

      I’ve never heard of Duckwalls – the first thing that came to mind was Wall Drug in South Dakota. It wasn’t your typical small town drug/variety store at all, but we still looked forward to seeing the signs scattered all over the upper midwest (366 miles to Wall Drug!) and the one time I was there was marvelous. As I recall, my haul included one pair of beaded moccasins and one of those felt souvenir flags.

      I did look up Duckwalls and discovered it was one of those family-established chains. There’s one still open in Kerrville that I just love – Gibsons. It’s the only place I know where you still can find a cheap replacement chimney for old oil lamps that have differently-sized burners from those produced today.

      Good memories, indeed!

      Linda


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