Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Twenty-eight

Posted by ilbebe on December 24, 2008

It’s Thanksgiving.

I was reminded the other day of the case of Steve Burgess, an old neighbor of mine. The neighborhood my family moved to in 1994 was not unlike many suburbs, in that we never really got to know any of our neighbors, except the people directly across the street. The fellow to the right of us was an older guy who mainly sat in his garage and whistled. The family to the left kept their yard immaculate, and I hardly ever saw them. The St. Pierre’s, directly across the road, were the only people anyone in my family was actually on a first name basis with, and it was their oldest daughter who came home from a late shift one night and saw that the side of our house was on fire. After being woken up, my family rested in the St. Pierre’s living room until it was safe to go back into our home.

Steve Burgess and his family lived just around the corner, down the block. I doubt I ever would have known him if his sons hadn’t been in Boy Scouts with me, or if my sisters hadn’t played softball with his daughter. I remember going to the Burgess home for an end-of-the-softball-season party and having the most delicious homemade ice cream I’ve ever come across. I also remember sitting behind the scorer’s table next to Steve at some middle-school basketball games; I was the scorekeeper, and he ran the clock, gobbling through tootsie pops in an effort to quit smoking.

The reason I mention Steve is that he used to run a hardware store in Brentwood. It was downtown, and he had everything. I came to him when I needed eight-inch carriage bolts to repair an old fence for my Eagle Scout project, and he asked me How Many? and then gave me fifty percent off because the bolts were for a Scout project.

The final nail in the coffin of the Olde Hardware Store was the opening of a Home Depot at the edge of town. I didn’t live in Brentwood at the time, but I happened to be home at my Mom’s house, and I read the news.

The Burgess’ don’t live around the corner any more, and I have no idea where they live now. I don’t imagine that they lost their shirts, they probably just moved to a different house, a newer one. This is a common practice in economic boom times, the same sort of climate that brings a Home Depot to yr old hometown and shuts down a place where people who have any fucking clue what they’re talking about can help you find the hardware and tools you need.

Steve, I hope you’ll understand: When I am in sour moods, I dream of burning the flag.

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