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After Work: Nostalgia For A Shower

…I passed our old street. No, I didn’t turn in. I couldn’t pass our old house. That would be more than I could manage, especially after this little cruise down memory lane…

Dona Gibbs visits the small town in which she once lived, notes the changes, and realizes that you can’t go home again.

For more of Dona’s entertaining columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/after_work/

I took a little side trip the other day back to the town where Ever Enthusiastic Husband, our son and a hyperactive standard poodle and I lived for many, many happy years.

Inching down Purchase Street, the main drag, I remembered what a friend had observed when we lived there.

“Wow, people here must really need their chocolate and caffeine.”

True, in a town of 15,000 people there were at least three places where you could drop in for a gourmet coffee and three places where you could indulge in fancy chocolates.

Today, the chocolate sellers have moved on, probably squeezed out by rising rents, to be replaced by banks and white tablecloth restaurants.

When we lived there, there were three independent bookstores. Now there are none. It’s not that the good people of Rye lost interest in reading of course, it’s online booksellers have made it so convenient to click, click and your choice can be on your nightstand in a day or two.

You can still expect to find two stores selling baby vegetables, edible flowers, platters of coq au vin and pint boxes of perfect jewel-like berries. The home of my son’s favorite sandwich, breast of turkey with mayo on white bread, slapped together its last two- thousand-calorie wonder a couple of decades ago.

When the lingerie chain Victoria’s Secret came to Purchase Street, the grande dames were horrified. The nittering and nattering pressured the store to replace the racy push-up bras and panty sets in the window to modest bathrobes.

“I’d be embarrassed to be seen walking in there,” was the sentiment.

Victoria’s Secret, however, is still a Purchase Street fixture, and I noticed all kind of lacy, revealing underthings in the windows. Those grande dames do have daughters and grand daughters.

The old family-run hardware store is long gone. A big box do-it-yourself store in a neighboring town made it redundant.

Even with changes, the small town feeling has not been lost. The three competing garden clubs are seeing to it that planters overflow and pocket gardens beam. Moms still saunter two abreast, pushing strollers. The mile markers that Benjamin Franklin decreed when he was first postmaster of the United States are still in place on the Boston Post Road.

The mist of nostalgia was getting pretty thick in the car. I opened the window. More memories flowed in. The heady greenness of it all reminded me of the loud appreciative sniffs that the poodle would take when we passed a certain patch of road coming home from weekends away.

I passed our old street. No, I didn’t turn in. I couldn’t pass our old house. That would be more than I could manage, especially after this little cruise down memory lane.

I thought back to one day about fifteen years ago. I pulled into the drive to find an unfamiliar car, an old Lincoln. Seated inside were two well-dressed, well-coiffed white haired women.

I pulled up behind them.

“Oh hello,” they twittered.

“We’re just looking at your house.”

I was puzzled.

“I used to live here when I was twelve and thirteen,” one explained.

‘Would you like to come in?” I asked.

They leaped out, almost skipping up the walk.

“Here was my favorite place to read. There was a window seat,” one explained. “I was hoping to see the upstairs bathroom. I hope you haven’t changed the wonderful shower.”

I knew exactly what she meant. One of the upstairs bathrooms had a huge stall shower. Not only did it have a large showerhead it also had smaller shower sprays jutting out from three sides.

“This was my very favorite thing about the house,” she beamed.

That didn’t surprise me. It had happened before.

On the other drop-in house tour, a woman had knocked on the door, explained that she had grown up in the house and asked to see and take pictures of the shower.

She told me that she and her husband were building a house and she wanted to duplicate “the wonderful shower.”

It came time for us, Ever Enthusiastic Husband and I, to sell our beloved house.

We hoped for a sensitive buyer. That hope didn’t last but a few days.

Reality hit us and then we amended our thoughts to hoping for a buyer, no sensitivity required.

That did not stop me from pointing out to the realtor the special shower.

We saw 20s tiled charm. She saw a gut job.

The house got sold to a youngish couple that had fallen in love with Rye.

Before they put in an offer, they showed up with a contractor and seven subcontractors to look at the house.

I couldn’t help but overheard her talking about “ripping this out” and “busting down that wall.”

So I’ll not be knocking on the door anytime soon and asking to see “the wonderful shower." I know it only exists in memory.

Change on Purchase Street I can deal with. Change to our house might turn on a shower of tears.


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