Friday, July 20, 2012

Sunday Mornings with Leon

By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

I have a brother that’s several years older than me; eleven years to be exact. He served in Vietnam, he heard Rock ‘n Roll right when the term was coined, and he was out of the house before my age hit double digits.

My brother savored Sunday mornings; no, not for church, but for going on little excursions. And he liked taking me along for the ride. I was in my early teens and was at a point where home was boring and parents were uncool.  

My brother lived in an apartment at the rear of a house a block away and I’d wait on my front steps where I could see him pulling out of his driveway and coming down the road. I could hear him too; he was driving a muscular Dodge Coronet at the time. It was a noisy car!

So we’d make the trek to Valley Fair, about 8 or 9 miles away. Valley Fair was a regional store and sold items similar to Kmart; it had a full supermarket too. The store even had a second floor where the toy department was; I loved looking at all the games since I enjoyed playing including Sorry, Clue, Headache, Trouble, Bash, and Operation. 

My brother liked the automotive department. That was tucked under the part of the building that had a second floor, and the ceiling was quite low there. The smell of brake fluid and other assorted items contributed to an unpleasant scent in the air. I patiently strolled through the aisles with Leon; sometimes he’d select some items for purchase. Turtle Wax was a favorite, since he was always polishing his car. Did that keep the rust away? 

Now, where I grew up, there were Blue Laws that still exist today. Basically, certain things weren’t for purchase on a Sunday. The big item was clothing, which meant that half of Valley Fair was roped off. Yes, they were actually areas of the store roped off. Of course, you could skirt right under but what was the point? The cashier would catch you if you tried to buy a restricted item anyway.


The diner has had a major redo but it's still there.
After an hour of looking around, we’d gather up our purchases and head to our next stop, the Red Coach Diner which we lovingly referred to as the Dead Roach. Time for some nourishment after all that shopping. 

The food there was excellent and the portions were generous; in just a few short years I’d be coming here at 4 or 5AM after a Saturday night out to pig out on cheese blintzes. I could eat those and not gain an ounce on my skinny frame. Sigh.

We got to know all the waitresses. Our favorite one we nicknamed “The Wicked Witch”. She was very nice but somewhat resembled a certain character from the Wizard of Oz. It was her nose that greatly influenced the nickname we bestowed upon her. She was probably in her 30’s then; twenty plus years later, she was still there.

Those Sunday mornings were special. I really didn’t know my brother very well until we started taking these little trips together. We got to talk and explore things and find some common ground. Today, I really appreciate the fact that he took the time to be with his “little sister”.

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1 comment:

Robyn said...

Love the memories....always wanted a Big Brother! Though, my younger brother and I managed to get into plenty of trouble. Our regular outing was taking the bus to the Braves games...all by ourselves. Big deal for young teens. Every day game, we'd be there. Wish I could say we had a diner like yours—or that we stopped at the Varsity, but with bus transfers, that was pretty complicated for a couple of kids.

Time spent with sublings always makes for special memories—thanks for jogging me down memory lane today! Enjoyed your trip to Valley Fair!