the 25th...and baker's hardware store

Each month when the 25th rolls around I grimace. Or cry. Or both. It's the day that approaches too quickly each month that requires I walk over to the business office and write one more check for way too much money in order to continue my college career. This is when I grimace. After I leave and start to figure out where the money is coming from [or not coming from, most months], I usually cry. Today was no exception. I'm sick of the constant uphill. With 5 more months of payments to go, I wonder where it will come from. After my "breakdown" today I went to the park to have my devotional time. The trees here are phenomenal right now--brilliant shades of oranges and reds and yellows. Seeing them and thinking about the God that had the power to change them like that, I knew I could be at peace. I knew I could be, but then I had to decide to be. I know the money will come from somewhere, somehow and I know God is bigger then this.

Lord, I saw what you did to the trees this fall, and I need that kind of beauty to happen in me.

I think I needed to get away for a little bit, and so I wrote about a place I loved when I was little. It's nice to be able to get away sometimes:

"Mr. Maker" we called him, our childish minds full of hopes when we stepped into his store. He was always there, sometimes on a little balcony inside that was within view of the rest of the store. His old office desk was up there, and probably scattered paperwork from over the years. Many time he was down on the hardwood planked floor, mingling amongst the paint chips and hand saws and nails. Or he was helping a customer looking for the right birthday card.

He had created quite the little hardware store, complete with school supplies, cooking utensils, yarn, lawnmowers, garden hoses, and toys. A basement full of toys.

That is why my sister and I would walk across town on those hot summer days and jingle-jingle the door open to be plastered with the cool air and Mr. Maker's friendly greeting. We would hustle, without running because we knew we weren't supposed to, to the back of the store, down the first flight of stairs and take a sharp right.

First, there were coloring books-- loads and loads of coloring books. Jumbo thick ones and magic marker ones and crossword ones and over sized ones. And then on the shelves along the wall were stuffed animals and baby dolls and action figures--most of them, out of date at least a decade or two.

Our favorites were the neon dinosaurs that made a horrifying noise when their bellies were squeezed just right. There were usually four or five and we would try to get all of them going at the same time. After the encore we would make our way to the back wall. This was the puzzle place. Barnyards and flowers and kittens and sesame street characters cut into odd shapes and sizes. 100 pieces or 25 or more. We were never too interested in these and would move to the shelves in the center supported by the beams around them. These were the game boards and the "trendy" toys-- the ones that were "in" that season. Our fingers ran over the pieces, wondering if we would, if we could, ever own such prizes.

I don't remember what was in the corner of the basement under the steps, because all I remember was that it never interested me too much. I think it was possibly the more trinkity things. The plastic things you could get out of a vending machine. The things our mother had taught us not to be attracted to.

When we had our fill of polly pockets, puzz-3Ds, and plastic cowboy hats, or, more often, when we ran out of time and knew we should have already been 3 blocks from home, we would breathe in the plastic, electric air around us, set off the dinosaurs one more time, and giggle our way back up the stairs. As the prehistoric neons groaned, we'd leave Mr. Maker's and throttle ourselves back into the thick summer air, our hearts groaning with them.

Yet we knew they'd be there when we returned.
I hope that trip to Baker's was as refreshing for you as it was for me. Quick note, last time I went down the basement about two years ago, there were still 2 or 3 of those dinosaurs smiling at me from their seemingly-permanent spot on the shelf....

and I squeezed them all.


Kali said...

The perfect bed-time story for me tonight. Just as I remember, too. I can practically smell that distincive Baker's smell. Hopefully our kids will be able to squeeze those dinosaurs someday :)

ashley mcfee said...

A slice of Maysville heaven. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Under the stairs were gardening tools. :)