LAKE MACBRIDE— Vague recollection of Saturday morning trips to downtown Davenport have been haunting me of late. It’s the holiday season, and the stillness of the house leaves a perfect canvas against which memory paints images of days gone by. Trips to the newspaper to pay my paper route bill, a stop at Parker’s Department store to dine on automat food heated under a reddish light bulb, to Petersen’s, Woolworth, W.T. Grant, Hanssen’s Hardware, and a stop at the Source Book Store. The latter being the only business still there, now run by the son of the founder.
There were places to eat. A lunch counter at Woolworth, the Griddle where my grandmother cooked and served lunch, Bishop’s Buffet, The Tea Room, and others, I suppose. Over the course of youth, I tried them all.
There were three movie theaters, the RKO Orpheum, the Capitol and the State. My classmates would go shoplifting in the downtown and then meet up for a $0.35 movie and swap stories, men’s cologne and other plunder. They didn’t view themselves as criminals, and with time, they grew out of it. I didn’t join them for fear I would get caught.
Now my Saturdays are much different. The day began with work proofreading the newspaper, followed by a series of errands. A drive to Oxford to meet up with a farmer, a trip to the orchard to pickup some apples and chat with the staff one last time this year, and a trip to the farm where I worked for news and another chat. It was not retail outlets I sought, but people I knew or wanted to get to know. And that’s the difference in my life today.
After the farm I went to the public library and brought home an armload of books, and a jelly jar full of hot chocolate mix. I cooked a dinner of stir-fried tofu and vegetables served over rice for the two of us. I opened a bottle of wine and had enough to taste it. The beer from summer is all gone.
What if memories of youth had been something other than shopping and going downtown on Saturdays? Why do those memories play now? What I’d rather do is live now, in the world constructed from my new life with practical farmers. In a society where government seems corrupt and bankrupt of morals, and shopping for necessities is all we can afford. Where splurging means buying a new book on Amazon.com, getting a slice of pizza at the gas station, or making holiday cookies at home. The commerce of life seems least interesting to me now.
Yet these memories of Davenport play. I can’t escape them, they are part of me. I’ll let them play against the screen a while more, until leaving the house for a round of Sunday morning work and what new adventures might be found outside of memory.