The following is a short of specific memory from my childhood, part of a larger piece about my life, so far a few hundred pages long.
When we moved into Fairway Park, a fifties housing tract, it was pretty much complete except for the shopping center. That shopping center started with a medium size grocery store called Luckys market. While it was being built us kids went to the construction site many time after the workers had gone home and played in the piles of dirt, rummaged the construction debris, and turned into jungle gym the steel beams and wooden rafters sometimes thirty feet into the air. It’s a wonder no one got hurt.
In a world of sameness, each house the same, each neighbor the same, each front and back yard the same, the construction site was a wonderland of difference. Each evening there were new things to explore, sawn ends of steel and wood beams, discarded rivets, electrical wire ends, plugs, and once in a while a tool accidentally left by a worker that we couldn’t figure out what it was used for. We never thought to take anything home, even occasionally when an expensive saw or drill was left behind. We would simply play with it trying to figure out how it worked then discard it usually in a different place where we found it. The actual destructive behavior would come much later.
When Lucky’s opened in the grand style of the fifties, with a small circus and spot lights, it was more of a disappointment because once it opened its doors it joined in the mediocrity that was so prevalent in those time.
Thing is, playing in the construction site of Luckys made way for other things which soon faded from memory until a few years ago when I was sixty-four and I happened to be visiting my ailing eighty-three year old mom.
I went to the shopping center and Luckys who had changed names many times over the years was being gutted to make another super store. The walls were gone, The ceiling was gone, all that was left was the outer shell of the building. When I walked by, there they were, the old beams we played on so many years ago.
I stood there with tears in my eyes gandering at the skeleton of a building as the memories flooded back in, finding electrical knock outs and pretending they were gold treasure, using strips of wire as swords, playing king of the mountain of the piles of dirt temporarily pushed out of the way.