Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gibsons killed Main Street

Long before the evil behemoth that we love to hate Wal-Mart emerged from the bowels of Bentonville, Arkansas there was another mass market retailer on the scene. Luring us with their wide variety of merchandise from cans of corn to a 30-06 deer rifle.

I grew up in Del Rio, Texas. A magical little berg on the border of Mexico 150 miles from anywhere. Life was good as we knew it. As a child, we went to the movies at the Rita Theater. One screen and we watched what the Prides wanted us to watch that week. I don't remember the price to get into the movie or the price of concessions, but I remember that it wasn't much. I always had enough left over after admission to get a suicide to drink and a box of milk duds that also served the purpose of keeping our dentist Dr. Crouch in business.

We sat on Santa's lap and told him what we wanted for Christmas at Beall's. We bought our hounds tooth and baby blue Wranglers as well as our wing tip boots from Prosser Martin. Later, we bought our funky jeans at the Tree House. We got our prescriptions filled and bought gifts at Ross Drug Store. Edwards Graham Insurance was still on Main Street. Both banks had the words Del Rio in their names and were across the street from each other. We purchased our furniture and appliances from the Builtas and the Wipffs. We could buy almost anything at the S. H. Kress store for a fair price. We bought our sneakers from the the Felans and our toys from the Houghtons. We bought our Dad's ties from Major Dobkins and my first suit came from the Guarantee during their big sale they had every year.

I'm not saying that change and progress are a bad thing, but when old man Gibson rolled into town and set up shop my hometown changed. Those of us that lived up on "the hill" as north Del Rio was referred to were less likely to visit downtown with the hassles of parking and traffic. The pharmacist at Gibson's became a trusted friend as did the guys behind the sporting goods counter. Gibson's is gone now but so is the Main Street that I knew. Damn Gibsons.

I speak the truth.

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