On a Saturday in May of 1964, I was ten years old and nearing the completion of the fifth grade. Dad and I drove to downtown Lincoln Park, the big one mile trek from the old Mabey homestead, in dear old Dad’s blue pick-up truck. We were on a mission, to buy Mother’s Day cards.
Back in 1964, there really was only one place to buy greeting cards in Lincoln Park and that was at “Doc” Kiverchuck’s Rexall drug store on Main Street. It was basically a very small store. The card rack was pretty much the length and breadth of the wall on the left hand side, as you walked into Doc’s drug store.
The process of choosing a greeting card was very different in those days, at least in Lincoln Park it was. You see, all of the greeting cards on display were samples. They were glued to a black backer board and atop the backer board was the name of the greeting card on the left hand side, and then the long code number on the right hand side. You would show the sample to the drug store clerk and then he or she would find that greeting card in what was a long series of drawers that was located just beneath the long greeting card display rack.
Maureen O’Malley was the clerk who worked at Doc’s drug store on Saturdays, back in those days. She was a high school student who had this pretty shade of red hair and freckles all over her face. And, at the age of 10, I had a big fat crush on Maureen O’Malley.
I remember Dad helping me pick out a Mother’s Day card for my mom and my two grandmothers. I remember handing my three sample cards to Maureen, my heart was beating like a big bass drum. I think every 10-year old kid in Lincoln Park had a crush on Maureen O’Malley.
As she searched for your greeting card, in the rows and rows of drawers, she would hum to herself. Oh, and she smelled like a flower garden. Not an easy accomplishment, since everything else in dear old Doc’s drug store had the aroma of cough syrup.
One thing that sticks in my mind about Maureen O’Malley is how she placed my greeting cards in a small brown paper bag, after Dad paid for them of course. She would be so careful as not to bend any of the corners of the greeting cards. And, then came the icing on the cake! Maureen would fold down the opening of the little brown paper bag with accurate precision so that the edges of her folds fell perfectly in line with the rest of the edge of the paper bag. Seeing such talent, first hand, only made the agony of my unrequited crush on her only more painful.
I remember so very well that as you walked out of dear old Doc Kiverchuck’s Rexall drug store that Maureen would say “good-bye, stop by and visit us again.” She would put a little song in her voice and my heart would go aflutter.
There aren’t many little Rexall drug stores left on the Main Streets of small towns in America any more. I guess kids buy their greeting cards at one of those big, impersonal chain drug stores. Yikes, or worse yet at Wal-Mart! They don’t get to hand the sample greeting card that was glued on the black backer board to a cute high school girl, whose smile alone could melt away your worries about Mrs. MacGruder’s big spelling test coming up in a day or two.
I know that today, 10-year old kids have the Internet, satellite radio, television with 500 channels, ipads, their own cell phones, book nooks, video games, automated left handed smoke shifters, and a dozen other gizmos and gadgets. But somehow, I feel sorry for the 10-year old boys of today. They’re missing out on that wonderful moment of having the cute high school girl help them find their greeting card amidst the charm of a small town Rexall drug store.
Love, Peace and Harmony, Richard