Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sort of like a Starbucks minus Lattes and Laptops

Back when there were no strip malls or massive shopping conglomerates spreading over acres and filled with a zillion stores-back when small villages and cities had vibrant downtowns there was usually a place where people gathered-sort of like a Starbucks minus the brand coffee with funny-named varieties and customers interacting with their laptops. Our hometown was no different. We had such a place in our downtown. It was called the Busy Corner-a just reward after a hard day of playing or the place to include when out shopping the many stores offering everything from a new suit to hardware-a new bike to jewelry- furniture and everything else in between.

When you walked into the Busy Corner with its tile floor and ceiling fans-which now make me think of a Humphrey Bogart movie sort of plot-you were greeted by stacks and rows of newspapers and magazines-piles of them. Lining one wall were choice cigars-so many so that the blend of the printed material and rolled smokes made for a most unique aroma as you passed by the man behind the counter who most always was smoking a cigarette or cigar and most always talking to a customer or two who they themselves were most likely enjoying a smoke. None of that bothered anyone back then. It's just the way it was. And so you kept on going in anticipation of what was to follow-which was the most amazing ice cream parlor ever.

Unlike ice cream franchises we are now accustomed to with endless offerings and endless lines, the ice cream parlor inside the Busy Corner was a most amazing, welcoming place complete with a soda fountain. You could choose to sit down at the soda fountain or you could choose to sit at one of the round type tables with the fancy round-seated chairs where you could perch for awhile and watch who was coming and going and talk to fellow shoppers and best of all-enjoy the best-ever milkshakes served in those tall types of glasses placed inside some sort of stainless steel container that you could hold on to while you sipped that best-ever milkshake in the world through a straw and when you hit empty you could pour more into your glass because they left more for you sitting on the table inside one of those milkshake-making containers. I know they also served Coca-Cola in real Coca-Cola glasses with ice but I can't tell you what else because I always ordered a milkshake. I'm sure they must have offered coffee for I remember adults sitting at that counter reading newspapers. I guess that would have been like their version of a laptop.

The Busy Corner was the hub-the center and heart of that downtown comprised of mighty brick buildings-some with ornate designs. Sitting on the corner where the two main streets intersected the Busy Corner was witness to the comings and goings of all that was happening. Sadly, that downtown and that Busy Corner are long gone. But I can still remember the aroma of newsprint mixed with cigars and the anticipation of going for the best-ever tasting milkshake after a hard day of play.

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