Do you remember when cheap toys came from Japan or China?
We had a Woolworth’s and a Morgan-Lindsay store where I grew up. Some called them “Five and Dime” stores. I said they were “ten cent stores.”
They were just off Main Street. They had a million kinds of candy in the front and hundreds of toys in the back.
This was a long time before Sam Walton opened his store in Arkansas.
Times have changed.
They sold the stuff Grandmothers bought when they went into town. That’s where all those hankies, balls of yard, Christmas gifts and little packs of tissues came from.
I was a little kid. My Grandmother would take me to town on Saturdays. She would pull a dollar out of her little snap-top change purse. That dollar had been folded over 4-5 times. I stood there, bouncing on one foot, then the other. She unfolded the bill, pulled it straight, like she could pull out the wrinkles and make it good.
I knew it was good. My grandmother gave it to me.
She would say “Mike, go find something you like. Here’s a little money.”
I was rich! Candy was two for a penny. The big bars cost a nickle. A balsa wood airplane cost a dime. I could buy a box of caps or a tube of BBs for a quarter.
Suddenly, it’s 100 years later. I’m the grandfather. I have grandchildren of my own. No folding money, though. I use a credit card.
My Grand-daughters wanted to go to Five and Below. I had no idea.
I think I’m back in the ten cent store. They have candy, tons of it. They keep plastic balls in big steel drums. They have bubble making machines, plastic cars, glow-in-the dark necklaces, kid’s puzzle and game books. I’m looking at the boy stuff.
There’s an entire section of girly girl stuff that I dare not venture into.
I look around, I’m suddenly alone. There’s no place for me to sit. My feet and my back hurt.
Oh, I see the two girls. Guess what section they ran to!
Wait, I’m not alone. I see another grandparent. He’s with his grandson. They’re looking at footballs and basketballs.
I turn away. The girls are headed for the paints and magic markers.
In walks another old geezer like me. White haired, bifocals, khaki shorts, white socks and slip on shoes. He’s holding hands with a six year old. She’s headed for the girly girl stuff. I look at him and just nod my head.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar,” they say.
It’s a three ring circus for the kids.
They say there’s nothing in the store that costs more than five dollars. There’s a whole lot in the store and the fives add up. It’s a forty dollar swipe of the credit card for the Grandparents.
And, the cheap toys still come from Japan and China.
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