Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 53.1 (John Steinbeck)

The Winter of Our Discontent
Steinbeck, John
The Winter of Our Discontent

I have no idea where I bought this, though if I had to guess I would say it was at a chain bookstore near my parents house in Virginia. I think there used to be a small Brentano's at a little shopping center in Oakton, VA, about a mile from where I grew up. It was just far enough from our house to be a long walk. It was also pretty easy to get there on a bike.

I was just about to tell a story about a book I bought at that book store in high school, but I realized that it's due up in the T section, so I will hold off.

But maybe I'll talk about that little shopping center. It's still there, I am sure. We spent a lot of time there when I was a kid. It was an L-shaped plaza with a parking lot that began at the road, Rt 123, or Chain Bridge Rd. as I think it was called. The main reason we went there was to go grocery shopping at Giant, a DC-area chain. Giant anchored the L at one end, People's Drug Store the other.

In between these two existed a series of smaller stores, some of them chains, some of them local shops. They changed many times over the years. Right next to the drug store, tucked away in a little corner was a t-shirt shop. They had a steam press in the back and mostly what they sold were decals that you could add to the front of your t-shirt. You could either buy the shirt there or bring your own.

I remember having them press a Star Wars decal on one shirt and then a "Death Before Disco" decal, featuring a disco ball and a skull with a snake extruding from the eye socket, on another. That store closed and became a video rental store. I think it may also have been a record store at some point. At the other end, near the grocery, was the Brentano's. I don't remember how long that was there.

I have a memory of stealing or buying a pack of cigarettes at Giant when I was about 13 and sitting outside the store smoking with a friend. An older woman came up and scolded us, saying we were too young to be smoking and that our parents should be ashamed.

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