Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Economy of Memory

On my walk the other evening I passed by the Economy Store in my small town. It’s a place where people donate their old clothes and kid’s toys, books and pretty much whatever they don’t want anymore. The store employees go through it all, throwing out the stuff that’s dirty or torn or broken; all the things people should have had the good sense not to “donate” in the first place. What is still usable or wearable they sell for a small price. Walking past I remembered back to when I was a kid, like 10 years old, and the thrift store was on Main Street. I didn’t go in a lot but every now and then I would walk in and look around. I’m sure I spent quite a bit of my allowance there but for some reason my memory is only holding onto two purchases.

The first was a drinking glass with a vertical design of the American flag. I paid a dime for it and can remember being quite taken with the design and colors, but as I think about it now, I’m not sure why. I’ve never been overtly patriotic. I’m grateful for where I was born and the things that are possible living here, but I don’t fly a flag at my home, I don’t wear t-shirts with a flag on it. It’s an important symbol, I’ve just never been “Rah! Rah! Rah! USA! USA! USA!” For some reason this glass caught my eye. I bought it and believe I drank out of it nearly every day for the rest of the summer (hopefully I washed it occasionally, but I was a dumb kid so . . .) I think I eventually broke the glass but I got my 10 cents worth.

The second purchase I remember was a paperback book, “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton. Jim Bouton was a major league baseball pitcher so I figured it was about baseball, which it ostensibly was. It was also about the players’ off-field activities: excessive drinking, rampant drug use, and chasing women. I read a little of the book when I got it home, but as a ten year old most of it went over my head. Bored, I set it aside and forgot about it. A few days later my brother who is ten years older than me, handed me “Ball Four” and said “Cool book.” I asked when he had read it and he told me he had started it the night before and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. With his endorsement I tried to restart it but it still flew way over my head.

I haven’t been in the thrift store since I was a kid but I’m glad it still exists. They help a lot of people and work very hard to do it, not to mention providing me with two lasting memories.

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