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Of Kiddieland and a closed coffee shop May 20, 2009

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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There are certain bits of news that don’t seem significant in and of themselves, but they speak of broader, unrelated issues.

A coffee shop closes.

This is not big news, not even abnormal news in an economic downturn. People reduce their spending on things like retail coffee, whether they are out of work or not, and a bit of convenience, habit, or tradition slips away. I received the notice today that our local Biggby’s had closed. The franchisees simply walked away from it. I had noticed that it was in a state of decline, not swept or refreshed like it used to be, and even when it was busy, there was not enough help to keep things moving. Then, the real regulars, the coffee lizards, and those who used the shop for business, stopped coming. And, now that I know for a fact that it is closed, I have to wonder if it was due to carelessness than “the economy”.

The Starbucks is not an option for me. Across the interstate, half the size of the Biggby’s, it’s just too much of a hassle plus no free wi-fi. Well, another franchisee can resurrect it or it may sit vacate for a time and become the next location for a cleaners (it has a drive up window) or nail salon. Can’t have too many of those, can we girls?

It’s just that we all like to have a favorite place outside our home. Frequently, it’s a local coffee shop where you can sit, read, daydream or run into neighbors and chat in a way that the usual hum of life does not allow.

Then I heard Kiddieland is closing. Again, not from “the economy” but due to a family unable to talk to each other except through attorneys. Kiddieland was, as it billed itself, the only amusement park made specifically for kids. No Simpson Rides or “Girls Gone Wild” Generation X-ers to spoil the fun of being a kid. We lived less than 4 miles from Kiddieland for ten years. My kids grew up with it. And the roller rink right next door to it. Sure, they can close the park but never take away the memories. When I was a kid, it was Chain of Rocks Amusement Park in north St. Louis. Very similar to Kiddieland but met its demise at the hands of changing neighborhood demographics in the 1970s. So, Kiddieland has had a long run and it’s sad since it could have been longer. Kids don’t get tired of having kid stuff to do. Kiddieland gave them a “right-size” experience. Not the larger than life Disney or Universal stuff. Kid-sized kid stuff.

We will remember what other generations will miss.

So, does a coffee house closing in a small southern town and Kiddieland closing say anything about anything? Not to “the world” or nation, really, it’s much more personal than that. It’s a friend pried away by life—nobody’s fault, or so it seems—just the time and tide that sweeps us all in and out of certain places at certain times.

It’s not change you can believe in. It’s just change.

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