Friday, August 3, 2012

Walter Reed's Gulf Station

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Rena J. Traxel at On the Way to Somewhere .  Head on over and click on links to some other great poetry sites.  She is also hosting a contest that you may be interested in.  Have a wonderful day wherever you are!
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On Wednesday, I took a drive out to the area in which I grew up.  Many days over my ten years there were spent in front of Walter Reed's store waiting for the school bus.  I was able to stop and talk with the current owner of the property and reminisce some about growing up nearby.  The building won't be standing much longer it appears.  The front is being propped up now.  If you look closely you will see that the top is not a pitched roof, but one of those facades that goes straight up and has a step up kind of side.  It used to be a Gulf station with pumps out front.  But the inside is what I loved the most!

Walter Reed's Gulf Station and General Store, Woolwich, Maine

Walter Reed's Gulf Station and General Store

We’d be there every morning
And wait in a straight line
The bus would be there promptly
At seven twenty-nine.

Sometimes if it was raining
Or snow made us too chilly,
We’d go inside to wait awhile
Quietly, not silly.

The gas pumps out in front
Where cars could make a stop
Were not what I remember most;
Inside was where I’d shop.

Coke and orange soda,
Root beer and ginger ale,
Potato chips and French horns
Were always there for sale.

Some days we’d have some money
To spend on our lunch treat
A nickel was enough to buy
A whoopie pie to eat.

In summer we’d get bottles
And turn them in for cash
With two cents in our pockets
We’d buy a candy stash.

It took quite a few minutes
As we tried to wisely choose,
But Walter was so patient -
I'm sure we did amuse.

Two pieces for a penny
So two cents would be four;
And we were so delighted
As we skipped out the door.

No more candy here at Reed's;
It’s been emptied of all sweet,
But I can still remember
Being two-cents-rich elite.

©Donna JT Smith, 2012

And then there's this one that just came to me:

Crumbling sweetness,
Windows wide
If you could only
Go inside
You’d see treasures
Days gone by
Penny candy
Two for ones
Walter sitting quietly
Waiting
Waiting for whom
Or what I wondered
The new road is not
Stopping
It passed him by
Taking travelers
Faster
Down a different
Road
And time stood still
In this place
Until he passed.
Now time has moved on
And the building
Is passing, too;
Crumbling
Sweetness.

©Donna JT Smith, 2012

12 comments:

  1. these are so lovely--they remind me of little stores that i went to that are no more <3

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  2. Donna, your poems took me right back to the old store we'd walk to (dirt roads!) visiting my Grandmother in Arkansas in the summer. Oh, that big white cooler! Love the line, "Being two-cents-rich elite." :0) Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Crumbling sweetness...but the memory stays strong.

    For me, it was Hazel Hudson at Hudson's car dealership. Inside the showroom was an indoor goldfish pond complete with (very exotic in small town eastern Colorado) Coi. We'd stop by after school to look at the goldfish and Hazel would give us a saltine or two to munch on while we watched.

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  4. Instead of the cola I went for root beer freezies. I love seeing old buildings and imagining the people who lived or shopped there. I love the line 'crumbling sweetness'.

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  5. Both excellent, but the first is a real gem of a poem with warmth and obvious love for the subject. A real triumph and therefore thoroughly enjoyable.

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  6. On one trip, my students got to get a big bottle of soda from a cooler-big tank with water. None of them knew how to use the bottle cap remover attached-remember? That's what brought me back with your poems Donna, the cooler with all the array of sodas to choose from, that and the horns-I'd completely forgotten about them. Your poems delight, but especially the endings, "crumbling sweetness" is beautiful. Thank you!

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  7. love these poems! i lived across the street from walter as a child in the 1970s and he was such a special person in my life.

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    Replies
    1. Wow! How did you find this?
      Across the street would have to be the Beals' old house? Is your mother by any chance Carla?

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    2. I will add another layer of intrigue, as I happened upon this page after doing a search for "Walter Reed Woolwich." Why? Because I grew up across the street from Walter, and while Jen D is not Carla's daughter, I am Carla's son!
      Really enjoyed the poems, by the way. I haven't lived in Maine in a while, but I have visited a couple times over the last few years. It's kind of sad seeing how dilapidated Walter's gas station has become. Apparently he was once married, but lived most of his life as a bachelor, squeezing out a living with his little gas station. Rumor is that Bette Davis stopped by his gas station back in the day when the road was Route 1. Walter wasn't much for words.

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    3. I will add another layer of intrigue, as I happened upon this page after doing a search for "Walter Reed Woolwich." Why? Because I grew up across the street from Walter, and while Jen D is not Carla's daughter, I am Carla's son!
      Really enjoyed the poems, by the way. I haven't lived in Maine in a while, but I have visited a couple times over the last few years. It's kind of sad seeing how dilapidated Walter's gas station has become. Apparently he was once married, but lived most of his life as a bachelor, squeezing out a living with his little gas station. Rumor is that Bette Davis stopped by his gas station back in the day when the road was Route 1. Walter wasn't much for words.

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    4. It's great to meet you, Pete! Your mom and I had lots of fun as kids in Woolwich. We were good friends. My sister was her youngest sister, Ellen's friend for many years. Jen lived in your house after you moved. Walter's gas station was torn down in the summer of 2012. Just his house remains.
      Say hi to your mom for me! We've lost track of each other...

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  8. Oh Donna, this was just lovely and the picture made me sad at first...but after reading your poem, I saw so many great memories in that building that it made me smile. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

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