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nothing quite as good ever

Carpenter's Drugs
"Nothing Quite As Good Ever"

Carpenter's Drugs sat on the corner of 5th and Washington back in the 60's.

nothing quite as good ever

a transistor radio runs through my mind
orange and black and made in japan
some miracle science had put on display
inside the rexall five and dime

it would cost a fortune that much i knew
and i felt my pocket and smiled at the case
my left front pocket all crinkly with green
my birthday money held tight in its place

the radio stared up with unblinking eyes
it pondered and pandered my every concern
it heard the money rustling inside me
it had the definite advantage of knowing my age
it was sparkly and bright in its own right
it was much too much to resist

the box was placed on the counter by a gentleman
i wish i could remember his name
he wore glasses and smiled that much i know
and i smelled the radio and he said hold it

i worked it free from its styrofoam grasp
it didn't want to let go and i knew why
and there it gave! and i held the radio in my hand
the smell stronger of so much wire and solder and a whisp of some future
this orange and chrome puzzle
the black pouch calling to be free too

he showed me where the battery went and i slid off the cover and snapped it in place
"it'll be staticky in here with the lights on and all" he said
and showed me where to turn it on
i felt the click and surge of white as i turned the wheel upward and said i'll take it and gave him a five
as fast as my hands would go
he handed my change and the box to me and i wish i could remember his name

i took my change, said i wouldn't need the box and had money left over for gum

i left the drug store with a new spring in my step
anxious to get away
my business transacted
no need for gossip or talk of the weather
i had better things to do

saturday streets were loaded with people and i melded in with them as i made my way
and the sun was shining and it was a wonderful may
and i was ten
and nothing quite as good ever has happened again

i heard the yellow rose of texas somewhere playing and my steps were in cadence to the beat
and somewhere near murphy's five and dime i saw my parents walking leisurely up the side of the street
my dad was dressed in short sleeves with the tatoo on his arm
a naval memory from a time when the world was mad and the tatoo stuck out much more then than now and he was smiling at me
watching me run up the street and mom was walking by his side

my smile said more than words as they examined what i bought
i think they both expected candy or one of the toys from the five and dime basement and mom gave me a look that said you're growing up and dad handed the radio back to me

i waited to turn the radio on until i got home and was all alone
it only seemed right to wait this way and i stood in the yard and i stood in the day the summer so young and now i wish it could be that way
the day squinted clouds that hung from above the smell of trees and flowers and shrubs
and i stood in the yard and stared at the leather pouch so soft yet firm
i knew i was ready for grown up things

something lost something gained in the weight of the time and the radio smiled up from its canopy of black and it peeked out the case and said turn me on

some things are very easily said
the weather's fine
there's nothing to dread
but the moment i turned the radio on and felt the surge of some thing so strong
that feeling i just can not describe
that day that summer that kid outside
that stood with the radio in his hand and turned through the dial
and a whole wide world opened up
through a speaker the size of a coffee cup

my brain expanded
i took on new light
the radio and i standing
the world just that much smaller
the space just that much tighter
and that's how i look at it now but then it was different
the space was much longer it lasted from sun up to dusk
it stood in the shade and ran through the streets and hid from the night as it spread its cave
and the nights
the nights!
what pleasure they gave

there was chicago and texas
maine and la
there was little rock and memphis and
the night was filled with invisible voices and
the songs
the songs!
the songs it played
there was elvis and orbison
nelson and cole
ray and vinton
and vinton was the first one i heard that day
the memory ancient yet fresh in a way i can't understand at thirty-nine
but i know this much

it was a wonderful time

© david sechrest, 2001