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Sixties Reminiscing the Missing

by Eva Pasco


Soda Jerk of the sixtiesAt 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, millions of people around the world will focus on the Waterford Crystal Times Square New year's Eve Ball as it begins its descent. In the span of a minute, we are in suspension, about to cross over time's threshold into a nebulous area of hope, challenges, and dreams. How quickly”last year" becomes fodder for nostalgia, though, from my perspective, lacking the panache of Sixties Reminiscing the Missing. For brevity, my countdown begins at five with random preference. While confined to my native state of Rhode Island, I'm sure you can relate and will come up with your own comprehensive list:

5. The Marieville Pharmacy on the corner of Charles St. and Mineral Spring Ave.,now Walgreen's. Growing up in the Sixties, I remember spinning on a stool at the long counter while the "soda jerk" made my ice cream soda, "jerking" the soda fountain handle to add carbonated water for the two scoops of ice cream to float on top.

4. The fish & chips joint on Smith St, a hole in the wall with red and white checkered cafe curtains, my dad frequented most Fridays to order take-out for us. Till this day I've never tasted fish as crisp and delicious as the battered pieces wrapped in white newsprint.

3. The Fairlawn Theater, formerly on Smithfield Ave. During the Sixties, a line formed around the corner for those Sunday matinees with double features. The price of a movie ticket ranged from approximately $.69 in 1961, inflated to $1.42 by 1969.

2. Ann & Hope off of Lonsdale Ave. was one of the state's largest department stores purveying groceries as well as an array of clothing, automotive parts, paint, and general merchandise. On any given day both floors teemed with people. Most of Ann & Hope's patrons acquired a taste for the ultra thin cardboard pizza slices sold in the refreshment area near the cash register lanes. Whenever a few Rhode Islanders get together to reminisce about the store, their "lenient" return policy invariably comes up. One person I know saved his receipt for a pair of shoes purchased there and exchanged them for a new pair nearly every year.

1. The Texaco filling station on the corner of Branch Ave. and Mineral Spring Ave., now one of those combo convenient stores and self-serves. Back when fueling choices were "high test" or "regular," and a regular gallon of gas cost about $.31 a gallon in 1961 to $.35 by 1969, the attendant would squeegee the windshield and lift up the hood to check the oil. He'd even check the air pressure in the tires if you asked. After all, you could trust your car to "the man who wears the star" on his coveralls.

As we reminisce and ruminate, many more irreplaceable institutions and establishments are missing from Main Street, USA along with a simpler less harried way of doing things. Though we can't stop demolition or dissolution in the name of progress, Baby Boomers can cross over time's threshold and greet the New Year, having relived a vast and rich array of memories unique to the Sixties Generation.

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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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