One of my favorite places to spend time indoors is the local hardware store. We're not talking a strip mall version of a hardware store or a Home Depot run amok called Lowe's. This is the real deal. It's been on the same corner of the same street for what seems like forever. I love walking down the cramped and worn linoleum-lined aisles, surrounded by all the things a person's life might truly need. It's where I go to buy lawn and garden equipment: hoes and hoses, shovels and rakes, seeds, onion sets, and my first wheelbarrow. It's where I bought Buddy's collars and leashes. There are a million wooden bins of nuts and bolts, screws and nails of any imaginable size or need. Upstairs is where I bought my first set of real living room furniture as a real live adult person. No more daybed, beanbag, boards and bricks. It's the place where people go in order to get things done. A place from which the human experience sets forth and lives are created!
Okay, okay. That last one may be a bit of hyperbole, but I really do like hardware stores - real hardware stores - and the real people you find there. Okaaay, I'll be quiet now, but you gotta promise to read this poem:
"Ode to Hardware Stores"
Where have all the hardware stores gone--dusty, sixty-watt
warrens with wood floors, cracked linoleum,
poured concrete painted blood red? Where are Eppes, Terry Rosa,
Yon's, Flint--low buildings on South Monroe,
Eighth Avenue, Gaines Street with their scent of paint thinner,
pesticides, plastic hoses coiled like serpents
in a garden paradisal with screws in buckets or bins
against a brick wall with hand-lettered signs
in ball-point pen--Carriage screws, two dozen for fifty cents--
long vicious dry-wall screws, thick wood screws
like peasants digging potatoes in fields, thin elegant trim
screws--New York dames at a backwoods hick
Sunday School picnic. O universal clevis pins, seven holes
in the shank, like seven deadly sins.
Where are the men--Mr. Franks, Mr. Piggot, Tyrone, Hank,
Ralph--sunburnt with stomachs and no asses,
men who knew the mythology of nails, Zeus's enthroned
on an Olympus of weak coffee, bad haircuts,
and tin cans of galvanized casing nails, sinker nails, brads,
20-penny common nails, duplex head nails, flooring nails
like railroad spikes, finish nails, fence staples, cotter pins,
roofing nails--flat-headed as Floyd Crawford,
who lived next door to you for years but would never say hi
or make eye contact. What a career in hardware
he could have had, his blue-black hair slicked back with
brilliantine, rolling a toothpick between his teeth while sorting
screw eyes and carpet tacks. Where are the hardware stores,
open Monday through Friday, Saturday till two?
No night hours here, like physicists their universe mathematical
and pure in its way: dinner at six, Rawhide at eight,
lights out at ten, kiss in the dark, up at five for the subatomic world
of toggle bolts, cap screws, hinch-pin clips, split-lock
washers. And the tools--saws, rakes, wrenches, rachets, drills,
chisels,and hose heads, hose couplings, sandpaper
(garnet, production, wet or dry), hinges, wire nails, caulk, nuts, lag
screws, pulleys, vise grips, hexbolts, fender washers,
all in a primordial stew of laconic talk about football, baseball,
who'll start for the Dodgers, St. Louis, the Phillies,
the Cubs? Walk around the block today and see their ghosts:
abandoned lots, graffitti'd windows, and tacked
to backroom walls, pinup calendars almost decorous
in our porn-riddled galaxy of Walmarts, Seven-Elevens,
stripmalls like strip mines or carrion bird's curved beak
gobbling farms, meadows, wildflowers, drowsy afternoons
of nothing to do but watch dust motes dance through a streak
of sunlight in a darkened room. If there's a second coming,
I want angels called Lem, Nelson, Rodney, and Cletis gathered
around a bin of nails, their silence like hosannahs,
hallelujahs, amens swelling from cinderblock cathedrals
drowning our cries of Bigger, faster, more, more, more.
~ Barbara Hamby
The photograph is mine.
OK...AMEN!!! I had to go into a Croft and Barrel last summer for a wedding gift. Awful!!! I have been known to leave Lowes or Home Depot and go to a reeel hardware store, so I could get some real help with a project. Great post!ReplyDelete
What's really cool is when the person helping me is someone I went to school with. :) Thanks, Lynn!Delete
Teresa -- Your hardware store type is almost a thing of the past in my area. Our Ace Hardware, a chain, comes the closest to being like the old hardware store you speak of sans the furniture. Nice poem. -- barbaraReplyDelete
Quite often, Ace Hardware and Hardware Hank maintain that small town atmosphere, despite being part of a chain. It's the jumbo stores owned by jumbo corporations that take away that sense of community. I'm glad you like the poem.Delete
Stores like these helped build and maintain this country and the ones that are left continue the same. These like post offices are what makes things go around.ReplyDelete
When we lose one we all lose big time and the corporations win.
I'm going to a hardware store/lumber yard this morning to pick up traps for the rodents my kat can't corral I guess.
Great post TE.
One Fly, It's one way I can work towards maintaining a sense of community. Every bit helps. If you come back, you might want to check out the link I added below. Speaking of rodents....Delete
This sounds very interesting, Teresa. I don't know a hardware store like this one, the one I know is a rather new one, but they've got lots of things too and I can never find the proper screw or nail when I am there. When I come home I find out I need something else. I've also bought some little round ones to put under the legs of the chairs once, so the chairs don't scratch the floors, but they fall off!!The shope has also got plants! And I like to look at the various plants and maybe have just one with me home!ReplyDelete
Thanks for the poem - it's not easy to learn by heart!
Plants are hard to resist, especially when they're flowering so beautifully.Delete
No, that poem will not be memorized any time soon. :)
Good to hear from you, Grethe.
I wish I had a camera so I could get pictures of the Barnes & Boring Hardware in Elizabethton, TN. They have so much. The store must be older than Methusela and sets square in the middle of town. So quiet and nice walking on its wooden floor. A T-model Ford did reside near the front door. The old type tin ceiling. A true gem in our town yet the bigbox stores have done it great disservice. It will eventually go away, I'm afraid. I don't like progress, at least the kind that speeds along and erases so much of our life of the past.ReplyDelete
Forget the poem! I got 'plumb bumfuzzled' reading it!
Hi Sissy, It erases a way of life that allows us to really slow down, appreciate life and our exchanges with people and to support those who are working for this idea.Delete
I got "plumb bumfuzzled" myself the first time, or even two, I tried to read it, but then I slowed down and gave it another try and the pay off, I found, was well worth it, although I will not be committing it to memory. :)
Kinda sounds like the hardware store of my youth. An old brick corner store with two separate entrances. I can still remember the great smells. The smell of tires, paint, solvents, leather, oiled floors and a million others. And the paint shaker machine!!! I loved watching the cans being mixed. Lots of paint spills too. My very first baseball bat was purchased there by my dad, a 31" Hank Aaron model painted black with silver lettering. That was about 50 years ago and the bat cost $3.00. I remember that day like it was yesterday. A great memory. Thank You for this great post Teresa. You are a gem.ReplyDelete
Yes, a brick corner store with two separate entrances! I almost mentioned the paint shaker and the lower level full of toys. That bat sounds like one fine memory to have. Thank you for telling me about it.Delete
I love how our lives seem to dovetail.
We are still lucky that we still have one...a hardware store owned by three brothers and that was owned by their dad before them....we go there first always and forever...ReplyDelete
A very similar situation here, only one son to take over the business. The father passed on three weeks ago. He was well-loved by everyone in the community.Delete
Sad to say, I can't think of any left in this area. Lowe's is just not the same.ReplyDelete
All big box stores, despite their somewhat lower prices, lead to the illusion that we Need things we only want, which often leads to further debt for many Americans. It is sad to hear that there are areas that no longer offer this option.Delete
Dear Teresa, thank you for this ode to hardware stores--both this posting and the one you linked us up with. When I was living in Stillwater, I tried to buy from local owners and not chains, but so often I went for what was cheaper. I regret that now. Peace.ReplyDelete
I wasn't always as good about it as I am now. We've all become more conscious, I like to think. Since I've been staying out of the Wal-marts of the world, I feel I'm actually spending less money. I'm buying what I need, and am less tempted by what I think I want. And I don't feel denied at all.Delete
No regrets. :)
I just stopped and got a 10 cent washer,they are a bustle of energy and one can always find out what is going on in the community.I laughed when one owner ran for mayor and won by a landslide, he had helped all in the community he served already.ReplyDelete
One of the perks of small -town living is having a business that serves as sort of a hub for the community. It feels good.Delete
There used to be a store like that in the town near here. We lost a real treasure when it burned and was not replaced. There's a store in town now that serves as a replacement but without all of the soul. However, in a very small town, one clerk asks if you'd like to go on a mountain bike trip and another wants to know if you are going to volunteer to work on trails with the Forest Service this year. Perhaps over time...ReplyDelete
It sounds like you are well on your way to finding that soul again. One conversation at a time....Delete
Now who would have thought there's be an ode to hardware store, you are lucky to live in a town with the vestiges of great AmericanaReplyDelete
It's nice to have smaller businesses offering so much just a few miles away.Delete
There is a hardware store, wooden floor, in the next town over. It is a True Value and I go there for everything from canning jars to rakes - or just to walk around. We had one in the town we used to live in that was several stories, the toy section 2 1/2 flights up (or the rickety elevator that took longer than the steps, but helped when I was with child). Up there, with the toys, was Santa Claus and where we went to pay the electric bill and get light bulbs with the credit.ReplyDelete
Oh, Teresa, now you have started something with your talk of hardware stores and this most wonderful poem. I think I will copy it and work it into a Christmas gift for Tom, who lives to go for nails.
Your hardware store sounds very much like mine. Aren't they great?Delete
I'm glad the poem is moving on to another "life" as part of Tom's Christmas gift. It sounds fun.
We still have the English equivalent of the type of store you talk about in the local town down the road, but they are fading away fast. The line "dusty, sixty-watt warrens with wood floors, cracked linoleum" describes it perfectly.ReplyDelete
Aren't those words perfect? I hope those still here will hang on.Delete
Once you've been in an ancient hardware store you never forget the flavor of it. Great poem! Have a super weekend. :)ReplyDelete
It's very memorable, isn't it? And a super weekend to you, dear lady!Delete