Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My hometown Kmart got condemned.

See, back in the day, the corporate Kmart folks made the mistake of buying land from shady Jimmy Collins. Now, everybody in town knows that Jimmy is a shyster. But the corporate types? Well, those city slickers didn't know. So, they bought the land for their store from Jimmy, who, of course, hadn't filled the land properly. It had previously been not a flat plot, but the Iowa version of a holler: steep and craggy.

So, Kmart built their store, and it was the location of many an important event. My 4-year-old self scored a play shopping cart there as a reward for not being a jerk for a week. It was also the first store I ever called, as 6-year-old me phoned Kmart to ask if they had Golden Dream Barbie in stock.

The Kmart had some accessibility issues. First of all, it was one of those stores that had all of its cassette tapes behind Plexiglas, so you had to ask the pimply kid with a key whenever you wanted to look at a tape. Secondly, pushing a cart in the store took skill, sort of the shopping equivalent of driving a stick in the mountains.

See, the floor of the store had peaks and valleys. You had to get a running start and pop a wheelie to get your cart over some of the steeper areas. It was a bit of a mess, but you just got used to it.

Well, the Kmart just was what it was - until a few weeks before Christmas, back in the day. The corporate Kmart folks came in with their engineering types. They took 1 look and promptly evacuated the building. Not just, "Hey, let's step outside," but more, "Holy blue light special, get out now!"

The store we'd all navigated with wheelies and patience was suddenly a little shop of horrors. No one was allowed back in the building without a hard hat and safety gear. That meant no Christmas shopping. And if you had Christmas layaway? You had to bail it out of a van in the parking lot.

So, eventually, they tore the condemned Kmart down. For the last 25 years, it's been an empty lot where semis park overnight. It's 1 of those things that just was ... it never occurred to me that a condemned Kmart was noteworthy.

What weird things did you grow up with that you're just now realizing weren't exactly, erm, normal?

9 comments:

smalltownme said...

The house my mother got in her 1961 divorce in 1962 started to slide down the hillside in 1962. Hell, my whole childhood was not normal.

Mrs. G. said...

Sunny D...it contains no juice.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

My parents' marriage (although I think I'd figured that out by the time I was 16 or 17)...and some of us kids spent hours playing in the gulley when no one knew where we were. There were transients that camped out there regularly (you could meander from those woods all the way to the train tracks that followed the coastline). It wasn't until I had kids of my own that I realized how dangerous it was for kids to be down there.

Cyndi B. said...

There was a huge slide on the main drag through our town. One of those ones you see at a fair, but it was a daily business. Never went there myself because my parents always said no. I just thought it was odd to be riding down Blackstone Ave. and in the middle of all the thriving stores and fast food joints, viola! A giant slide!

Iron Needles said...

My hometown was hit by a tornado in 2005, and 95% of it was destroyed. That has been cause for many photos coming out of the archives and much remembering of how things were back in the day. Which was bat shit crazy, like most small rural midwestern towns. Town has been mostly rebuilt, but of course all modern like. And everyone who moved away the minute they graduated high school? 'oh we miss the way it was...' Yeah. So much that you haven't lived there for 60 years.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That's CRAZY!
I actually thought my family was normal for hating family get-togethers and counting down the minutes until we got to be free. I thought that was how all families felt about one another.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Not normal... hmmm, well PLENTY, but anyway, Woolworths always seemed kinda interesting, from fish and gerbils to popped popcorn and pop guns...but Kmart, and I am headed toward age 50, always seemed depressing somehow, you know? Ithaca's closed last year....

B-kat said...

Not normal...walking down the street to the corner store (pre-Casey's era) with $1.00 to get either a quart of Schlitz beer, or a pack of Pall Mall red for my Dad. Thought nothing of it, that I went or that I could purchase such items. Whaaaaatttttttt???

Patience_Crabstick said...

"Holy blue light special..." LOL.

Putting bread bags into our boots to help keep our feet dry. This is just what everybody did and it never occurred to me that it was weird until the other day when I saw a facebook comment making fun of the practice.