howdy_doody_cropped_w640

I was driving along Scripture Road when it happened.  Headed east, I had the sunroof open to the spectacular afternoon, a rare treat in Denton’s typically much cooler February.  The sun was warm and happy clouds lazed against a summer-blue background.  Just through the 4-way stop at Scripture and Malone, in front of the Howdy Doody convenience store, time wrinkled.  I was a kid on my blue stingray bike with the banana seat, my brother beside me on his red one.  We pedaled the last few yards, hopping off and dropping kickstands in one motion beneath windows papered by posters about sales on meat and produce and milk.

A 1960s era summer day highlight:  speed through a few chores, earn a dime, bike the quarter-mile to our neighborhood version of Howdy Doody, and then?  Shopping, the kind a kid loves.

The cool, earth–flavored air washed over our sweaty suntans when we pushed through the double glass doors, our bare feet slapping worn concrete floor.  The few aisles were narrow, cluttered with cardboard cartons of eggs, fresh corn in long-haired husks, Tony the Tiger cereal, potatoes and watermelons all ending at a meat counter where an old man cut, weighed, and sold chicken and hamburger meat by the pound.  And the candy aisle!  Bubble gum, jawbreakers, sweet tarts, candy bars.  A dime could buy a lot of stash back then.  I loved browsing the sweet stuff but usually ended up at the old Coke box just to the side of the cash register where I spent my dime on the pleasure of sticking my hand down in the ice to pull out a frosty-bottled Fanta.  Then I’d sit on the hot sidewalk outside and relish the cold bottle, the sweet strawberry soda, and sunshine all at the same time.

The memory was so real and tangible there in front of the Howdy Doody, I was really back then for a moment.

That day, it was Howdy Doody.  But it’s happened other places before.   Frosty’s… Beth Marie’s Ice Cream...  Atomic Candy...  These and a few others have taken me back over the years.  It feels good every time, that sweet nostalgia.  Having then and having now so close to each other is one of my favorite things about Denton.