Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"Dad, What's a Hobby Shop?"

Driving home the other day, I passed a hobby shop that had closed after 45 years in the community. It had gotten run down and less and less kids were frequenting it due to newer time distractions. (See Nintendo DS, Wii and a myriad of other electronic devices). Mentioning it to my 13-yr. old son, he asked me what a hobby shop was. For a moment, I was surprised. How could he not know? Didn't every kid? Another icon of society was fading into the past and another generation of kids would never know first-hand about it.

I reminisced about my Saturday mornings as a teenager when I would hurriedly count my change in order to see if I had enough to buy the newest Aurora plastic model monster kit. I would check the levels of my Testor's enamel paint and check if I had enough glue on hand, and then would promptly head out on my bike as soon as the store opened. The front windows were filled with Tinker Toys, telescopes, erector sets and train tracks, kites and Radio Flyer wagons. Part toy store, part DIY shop, I spent countless hours planning future purchases with the store's owner. After choosing the Phantom of the Opera kit and buying extra day-glo green paint for the face and hands and black for the cape, I bundled my new project and rushed back to the privacy of my parents' basement work/play area. Spreading newspaper over the table, I would gingerly open the package and begin carefully separating the plastic parts as directed by the instructions. Step by step, the model would come to life. The smell of the glue was enough to give me vertigo, but I pressed on. Usually it took a day to build and another to paint, which fit perfectly with my idea of why there were 2 days in "weekends". By Sunday night, I had completed the fantastic pose and detailed it to my liking. Pride and artistic expression were my companions as I showed my parents what had consumed my time for the past two days.

After sharing that recollection with my son, the fondness of that memory stayed with me for the rest of the day and many more memories showed up from that time period, too.

I remembered my neighbors' house where I built a few other models; how the phantom model had a terrified person in a dungeon at the base; how much pride I had in keeping my brushes neat and cleaned. I felt 13 again and enjoyed a sense of camaraderie with every other "child", now full grown, who recalls those same sentiments. Collectively, all of us "model builders" share a memory of times spent fully engrossed in a place private enough to work where time held no meaning, supplied by a store that was now going the way of the 5 & dime. The models themselves may be long gone, but the remembrance of that time period was indelible.

All of us have common "time period" memories. Feelings give stories meaning and relevance. What we keep to ourselves, dies with us. What we share with others remains. Someday my grandson may ask his father (my son) if he's ever heard of a "hobby shop". My son can proudly recall hearing about them from his father, and in doing so, recount my memories, stories, connections and feelings - keeping them from being forgotten.

Take the time to ask and really listen. There's a history and her-story waiting to be saved.

Let TimeStories save them for you, forever.

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