Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kings Market

I drive past this scene nearly everyday of my life.

It's a very real impressionable part of me.

When I was not-yet-five, we moved to Santa Rosa so we could live closer to the grocery store my dad and his business partner, Marvin, owned. It was Kings Market, located next door to Fosters Freeze.

I still remember my dad letting us use the Dial-a-Date 12-Year Rubber Stamp to press the date on the cans and climbing up the back steps in the lunch room to spy on the customers that appeared in various shades of gray through the tented windows. The cold ice cream glass case had masking tape alongside the crack where so many people leaned up against it, cracking it. My dad would let us help ourselves to the ice cream drumstick or the root beer popsicle.

I remember shopping there with my mom and feeling proud, watching my dad behind the counter at the cash register ... wearing a neck tie and green apron, he barely acted like he recognized us... acting as business-like as possible, talking quietly. Every summer, behind the brick wall out in front in the parking lot, they sold fireworks before the Fourth of July. I spent so much time at the Fosters Freeze. While waiting for my half vanilla/half chocolate soft cone, I'd grab the pole out in front and twirl around it.

"Watch me. Watch me. Watch me..." I'd say. I'd grab high up on the pole and twirl around as many times as I could before my feet reached the ground.

I still drop by the Fosters Freeze on occasion. It doesn't feel quite so fast-food since they take your order and cook it on the spot, making it feel more home-made than anything.

There was once a laundromat in that center. I think it's been replaced by a vacuum repair shop. I remember my mom taking us all there to do the laundry and while the clothes were being washed, she would let me sit in the cart and my sister would push me around like a carnival ride. The owner's name was John and he lived in the apartment above the laundromat. He wore overalls and was always taking the coins out of the machines and putting them into cloth bags to take to the bank. Or to place under his bed or in a sock drawer for all I know.

Kings Market is now a carpet store. I walked in it a few years ago with my mom while looking for carpet. It was barely recognizable. I wanted to tell the man working that day that my dad once had a grocery store there and I imagined myself pointing up to the windows up in the back and telling him how I would watch the customers through the tinted glass, and how they sold fireworks right outside that window. But I knew he wasn't interested, so after we browsed through the carpet samples we left without saying a word, making a quick stop at Fosters Freeze to order a half vanilla/half chocolate soft cone because even through the midst of so much change, there are still things that remain the same.


Rayne said...

My mom used to own a toy store when I was very young. All of the other kids thought I was the luckiest girl in the world. I tried to explain to them that we couldn't play with all of the toys, they were there to be sold. But they still didn't get it.
I do remember the same sense of pride watching her work with customers. She sold mostly hand crafted toys only and when someone would bring in their things she would sometimes bring the items into the back room and get my brother's an my opinion on it.
The store is a real estate office now.

Rayne said...

Oh, I forgot to say, this was a very well written post by the way. I loved how you described twirling on the pole and spying on the tinted people.

danny said...

Wow that was a great story! It must be very nostalgic to live near all the places you remember as a kid. Whenever I go back to my home town, it brings back tons of memories. There used to be a Fosters Freeze near where I lived too. But they tore it down and now it's a bank.

kelly said...

Shawn, great story! It brought tears to my eyes remembering all those things that I had forgotten. Thanks for the memories. You always have had such a great memory!! Thanks too, for fixing my blog.

Michele Miles said...

Shawn -

I was in the mood to read, so I came to your blog and clicked on one of your older posts.

Anyway, I loved this - how proud you were of your dad; the free ice creams, twirling on the pole (Wow, I forgot about how much fun that used to be). I kept wishing you mentioned to the carpet store man that your dad's store was once there, but then I would have been pissed if he didn't seem very interested. So I'm glad you spent the time thinking about the memories yourself.

Ahh... I love Foster's Freeze. They recently boarded up the one near my home. I hate that. Yep, half vanilla/half choclate. Everyone time I have one I feel like a kid again.