Generally Speaking:A little nostalgia


An old Indianola friend posted on Facebook this week that the Caldwell’s Drug Store had been razed.

She posted a picture of the empty corner lot at Front and Main. It made me sad, but it was yet another reminder of how the times have changed.

I am probably one of the few who recall when that store really did belong to the Caldwells, who lived next to us on Heathman Avenue.

Their back door was just across our front lawn, and I used it often, but their front door  faced Gresham Street.

Mr. Caldwell was about as fine as they come. He was quiet, gentle, and soft-spoken. He must have been a savvy and respected businessman because the name of the store never changed even when the ownership did.

Mrs. Homie and Mr. George Pickens, who lived one block down and whose front door also faced Gresham Street, took it over at some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and it was quite the place for buying gifts as well as Blue Horse notebook paper! 

Caldwell’s actually had charge accounts. I remember well because my daddy gave my sister and me a monthly lecture, with angst, about the ridiculous amount of hair spray we charged. He may have revoked our charge privileges at some point. If he didn’t, he certainly should have.

If you happened to be a bride, however, it was crucial to register all your patterns at the drug store with Mrs. Homie.

She carried a wide selection of the very best. She was also a superb saleslady who kept a careful tally on the number of dinner plates and cups and saucers she managed to peddle for her betrothed clientele. I recall that she also made house calls.

She would come by our house on her way to the store every morning in the summer of 1971 to count my wedding gifts. In those ancient days brides displayed all their loot on the dining room table, card tables, coffee tables, and whatever exhibit-like options the bride’s parents managed to cobble together.

Mrs. Homie had the memory of an elephant. She knew who bought what, who had yet to buy a gift, and what she intended to sell the unsuspecting customer. Somehow, she managed to steer her patrons to all the right options, and miraculously a couple’s patterns were completed in short order.

Indianola in those days could have been the inspiration for Mayberry. I still think of Mrs. Homie every time I set the table with my fine china.

Seeing the photo of that vacant lot sent me on a major nostalgia journey over the entire block.

Dr. Aden’s office was right behind the drug store facing Main Street. I also think there was a Barber’s Pole there, but I can’t imagine why there would be. He shared office space with Dr. Shirley, a dentist. There were no barbers around!

As a little girl, I considered Dr. Aden’s office to be, hands down, about the scariest place imaginable. I remember the antiseptic smell. It permeated the entire clinic.

There was a long hallway, two or three examining rooms and then, the most intimidating room was there at the end and to the right.

I don’t recall if they called it the lab or something else, but if you had to make a trip to that room, chances were good you would be getting an injection of some kind. Right there on the green vinyl counter was a strange spinning contraption that was always sending forth steam. It sterilized glass syringes, and they looked big enough to inoculate a hippopotamus if need be. I would rather have walked across hot coals in barefoot than be told to go to that room.

The always smiling nurse’s name was Doris Wiggers. Why do I remember that and can’t tell you what I ate for breakfast?

I know she was a lovely person, but I avoided her even at church on Sunday mornings. She was the last person I felt I could ever trust. She lived to give shots to children – or so I thought.

It doesn’t feel like all of that was so many decades ago, but it was. Time marches on. I don’t think I realized when I was growing up in that very safe place behind the white picket fence on Heathman Avenue that the years would eventually erase so much of what was my ordinary everyday existence. 

As I look at the craziness of the daily news and the “new normal” which is anything but normal, I am more grateful than ever for the “village” which was my hometown, Indianola.

The “Mrs. Homies,” the “Dr. Adens,” and the “Mrs. Shuttleworths” (whom I have not mentioned, but everybody knows who she is) – they WERE the village, and their influence will never disappear just because a structure was razed in the name of progress.

They are as much with me today all these years later as they were in those days their lives intersected mine. And that’s a good good thing!

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different… – C. S. Lewis


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