Monday, October 10, 2011

No matter where you are, hardware stores always smell the same. - Aug. 2008

Because of the nostalgia of olfactory memory, this is a comfort to me.  I was in the Menard's with my brother the other day and the familiar scents of pesticide, oil and assorted other chemicals got me reminiscing.  I was practically raised in the hardware store that my parents built and ran for ten years of my early youth.  The whole community came by regularly, so I was thoroughly socialized.

I recall, for instance, spending a day of bad flu episode on one of those plastic tubing lawn recliners behind a counter in the back of the store because Mom had to work.  Time off doesn't always coincide with juvenile illness when you own your own business.  I was puking, but people NEEDED hardware.

I remember holidays and evenings interrupted by urgent phone calls from members of the community who had a problem.  "The fence is down and the cattle are out!  Can you open for me?"  The answer was always yes.  It was the same for my grandparents who owned the grocery store across the street.  "I burned the stuffing!  Can you sell me some Stove Top?"

Fencing Materials 20.00$
Stove Top stuffing: 1.99$
A small town store that will let you buy something on Christmas:  Priceless

My father actually had an aviary in the basement of the hardware store where he raised birds for hobby and sale.  There were canaries, parakeets, cockatiels, love birds, ring necks, larger parrots...and stinking finches.  When Dad wasn't there, I had to clean the large pens.  The finches were the worst.  They were noisy, messy and un-tameable.  I don't know how many times I thought about accidentally leaving the finch door open along with a door to the outside.  But I never did.

The basement was also quite splattered, because it was the area that held the sometimes rebellious paint-shaker.  Its capriciousness made it foreboding. At the Menard's I learned that it's done differently now, but back then, you clamped the paint cans into this vice-like apparatus and turned it on to shake them vigorously.  If a lid popped off paint flew everywhere.  If one of the cans came loose, it was a projectile of some considerable bulk.  When I was older, I got to shake the paint, but I still carefully clamped the can in and ran away...

We've had some great parrots as pets, but the one that was mine all mine was a blue-fronted Amazon named Dutch.  I can't explain what bonds a bird to a person, especially when you didn't raise the bird, but Dutch just loved me and I loved Dutch.  He had a formidable beak.  He could have taken a finger off, but his eyes only ever radiated adoration.  I've never known a bird like him since, though Peeps is adorable.

Before I was school age, I had a little baby buggy that I would push around the store with my dollies in it.  Then came Dutch.  Dutch would gladly let me put him on his back and wrap him papoose-style in a baby blanket.  Then, of course, I would put him in my buggy and push him around the store.  There were quite a few shocked customers who stopped to say "hello" to my dolly and were met by a large parrot head poking out of a blanket that said "hello" back.

Good times.

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