Looking for the Past in all the Wrong Places

When in Search of a Piece of Your Past, You Never Know What You Will Find.

When I returned to New York for my high school reunion, Scott and I walked down Main Street in Tarrytown soaking up memories and markers of my youth and family.  “Where is my dad’s hardware store?”   I walked up and down the same block a couple times going past where the store should have been.  “It was here the last time I walked down Main Street at my reunion five years ago.”  “I know if was here, right here.  I remember this brick arch and the raised stone in the street over here.  This building to the left goes back to the 1800s.  It used to be a pharmacy with a soda fountain counter.  It was right next to the store.”  Both are long since gone.  I look squarely at the structure before me that should be my father’s store.  It is set back a ways from the curb, further than it should be, but it feels right.  I throw open the door, walk in and say “Was this building once a hardware store?”  It is now an Indian restaurant.  There are murals of India everywhere and the interior is completely different from back in the day.  The waiter says he will get the manager  I tell the manager that Mr Greenbaum bought  the store from my dad and it remained a hardware  store with him.  The manager has no knowledge of this and sees me as a very misguided annoyance

I leave the restaurant disappointed and walk to the hardware store around the corner and down a couple blocks  It turns out the owner knows Mr Greenbaum and he remembers everything about the store.  He tells me the address of the store and I return.  Guess what?  It IS the Indian restaurant.  So I tell him I am quite sure about this  The manager calls the owner and discovers that the owner bought the store from Mr. Greenbaum.  All of sudden, we are celebrities. “please Miss you will take pictures.  Very nice, very important, you are our special guests.” Yes we change this very much”  I picture my dad who never ate anything but meat (usually beef even) and potatoes somehow connected in a karma kind of way to an Indian restaurant.  The image makes me laugh a little.     

Gone is the big floor to ceiling ladder that slides across the floor like the man on the flying trapeze with the greatest of ease. Gone are the hundreds of tiny draws for screws, nails, and bolts  that I used to help sort.  Gone is the key machine- an expertise I developed while working at the store myself. The owner of the hardware store we stopped in to confirm the location felt a sympatico towards me from my days in the hardware world, and he let me play with his key machine.  Back at the restaurant,  Gone is the paint and the lawn seed, and most of all……my Dad

We take pictures at the store and in front of the store and I relish in the memory of what was.  And for that short visit, it is a hardware store again, my dad’s hardware store, Cramer and McCutcheon. And, I am in full hardware mode “Can I help you?”

           me now, making keys at a nearby hardware store, where  the owner indulged me as I reminisce  about when I did that for my dad…

(tried to make all these pics smaller but don’t know how… sorry for taking so much space)

And a picture of me in front of the old hardware store after my dad sold it to the Greenbaums, and before the exterior of the building was remodeled to comply with ADA regulations…..and it became an Indian restaurant.  From Devoe Paint (no longer made) to Indian Dahl….change is imminent.  I found the proverbial cheese!

3 thoughts on “Looking for the Past in all the Wrong Places

  1. You never DO know what you’ll find when you go searching for a piece of your past – but in this case, you found an enchanting story to tell. Not to mention that great old treasure of a photo! I love to write about the past and have discovered that once I immerse in long ago for while, I can recall forgotten details and “see” more than I think I can. It’s like time travel. I hope you keep exploring!

    Liked by 1 person

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