During summers in the 1960s, Dad wore his brown suit and polka-dot tie to work at Sears Roebuck & Co. during the week. He looked tidy, but I think this get-up rubbed him the wrong way when the great out-of-doors released his inner guy.
Thus, on Saturdays he super-manned into beige army shorts and as decrepit a shirt as suburban sensibility allowed. Thus attired, he took himself off to Soukups Hardware store on York Road in Elmhurst, IL. He often took me along, a ruse that he was parenting when, in fact, he was not. He was PLAYING.
I believe Soukups Hardware store occupied its land before the town dug in its heels around it. It was sooooo old, it was haunted. I am certain of this since I spent precious, preteen sunlight hours inside it feeling spooked.
Watching Dad enjoy himself held my attention briefly, very briefly. It seemed to me he invented home repairs so he had an excuse to chat with the owner. Watching the owner enjoy himself held my attention not at all.
Our Chicago hardware store is literally stuffed with smart people. Yesterday I learned the following fun things:
1. You can’t buy spray paint in Chicago: An anti-graffiti initiative. I needed spray paint.
2. You can’t buy 100-watt fluorescent bulbs: An energy-conscious initiative. I needed 100 watt bulbs.
3. You can’t argue with a salesperson intent on explaining communism. I needed directions to the potting soil.
4. You can’t argue with the cashier about an item clearly marked down. The cashier always wins.
I didn’t depart with anything I wanted. I suspect that was its appeal for my Dad.