Tag Archives: Mac’s Compact Disc Shop

The Old Gal

She has had a good life. More to the point, I have had a good life, in part, because of her. We’ve been through thick and thin together, and she has silently stood with me experiencing the highs, and a few lows, of my life for almost thirty years. The times we have shared are priceless, but I’m deeply afraid the old gal’s days are numbered. I cannot fathom a life without my mainstay – my reliable one – my comforter – my mate. To me, she’s an integral part of the family. To my wife, she has served her purpose but is long overdue for being put out to pasture. I’m at a loss as to what to do about my ailing La-Z-Boy rocker recliner.

My lovely wife, on the other hand, has been lobbying for many years to replace what I’m sure she sees only as an embarrassing eyesore. Her pleas to say good riddance to the old gal have increasingly become more boisterous and much more frequent with each passing year, but her requests have consistently fallen on deaf ears. It seems as though the missus has grown to loathe the color of my easy chair, but I think mauve still goes well with our living room décor. If mauve was good enough as the primary color of our wedding then by golly it should be good enough now. “But that was over 30 years ago,” my wife keeps reminding me. Supposedly, the pale purple color is no longer hip and doesn’t even deserve a place in today’s society. When did mauve become such a bad word?

I’m guessing women just may not know how attached a man becomes to his chair over the course of time. We need only look to Martin Crane of television’s Frasier, or to the revered Archie Bunker character, to grasp the importance of a man’s easy chair in his life. If an insufferable curmudgeon’s chair from All in the Family can make its way into the Smithsonian then surely my mauve mate can continue residing in my living room. A man’s adoration for his chair is certainly nothing new and transcends multiple generations. I assume my father was very fond of his rocker recliner. Me…not so much. Many times the all too familiar sound of my father swiftly depressing his chair’s footrest meant he’d had enough of my roughhousing and was coming after me. Maybe my son has a similar story to tell about me.

I can only imagine the stories my La-Z-Boy would tell if only she could talk. I have seen and done so many things, and have watched history unfold, from the confines of my comfortable chair. I witnessed the O.J. Simpson white Bronco “chase” and subsequently the dramatic trial. I watched one evening as President Bill Clinton looked me, and the rest of the nation, in the eyes and insisted, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” I cheered for my favorite baseball team (at the time), the Atlanta Braves, as they were crowned World Series champions in 1995. I was also in my comfy chair when rooting for University of Northern Iowa alum, Kurt Warner, as he led his St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory in 2000.

However, not all memorable times spent with my mauve mate have been happy times. Once I was slowly rocking in my La-Z-Boy when out of the blue I informed my wife I thought I needed to go to the emergency room. It was the evening of the very day a dream of mine came true when I opened a music store in my hometown. The jubilation I was experiencing, from a successful day at Mac’s Compact Disc Shop, instantaneously turned into unrelenting pain. The culprit responsible for my abrupt anguish was later determined to be a kidney stone. I’ve also felt uneasy at times, oddly enough, in my easy chair (get the irony?). I’ve anxiously recuperated from a few colds and flus, softball injuries, and a knee surgery. I also somberly observed most of the events of 9/11 from my comforting chair. I’m thankful though that life in my prized chair has produced mostly positive memorable moments.

I can recall multiple times relaxing in my La-Z-Boy with my beloved dog underfoot. Brittany could be a bit of a nuisance though whenever she would decide to lay down directly in front of my chair. Her ill-advised choice often prevented me from operating the footrest without having to disturb her slumber. My dog’s decision also significantly hindered my path to both the kitchen and the bathroom, but it certainly was wonderful being worshiped by my faithful companion. Brittany’s unconditional love was often rewarded with a hunk of pizza crust or several pieces of popcorn (she’d expertly catch) during our family movie nights.

Many of my most cherished memories, while lounging in my easy chair, involve being snuggly encompassed with my child. There’s nothing quite like the pride I felt as a father when holding my newborn son, so close to my heart, while gently rocking him to sleep. Or a few years later when witnessing my toddler’s wide- eyed curiosity, while cozily on my lap, as he intently watched whatever shenanigans his favorite purple dinosaur was up to, during episodes of Barney & Friends emanating from our television screen.

Fast forward twenty-some years to a more recent memory I have of my adult son when he came to visit his very cool parents one weekend. He’s a fan of the old gal, too, so he’s frequently chomping at the bit to inhabit her. My respectful son is pretty good about asking me if he can seize control of my La-Z-Boy, before just plopping down, so I almost always say yes to his request. Just as predictable as my answer, is my son’s propensity to be snoring within only a few minutes of settling in. One time I found myself chuckling out loud after noticing my kid all sprawled out and making use of every inch, and then some, of my chair’s lounging capacity. Seeing my boy’s 6’3″ frame overflowing the parameters of my recliner was a sight to behold.

Although my son now lives over a thousand miles away, my mauve mate unexpectedly, but pleasantly, reminded me of him just the other day. I had flipped over my La-Z-Boy, as I’ve been doing from time to time, to see if somehow my mechanically uninclined self could find a cure for my ailing chair. No such luck again, of course, but on this particular day something trickled out from one of the rusty springs underneath the chair. It was a small, black strip of something somewhat familiar. Upon further investigation, I concluded that the small piece of plastic adhesive probably came from a handheld label maker my son used to own long ago. I turned the black label over to find only a single word imprinted on it – although it was a wonderful surprise! The one word was just the name of my son, but the seemingly insignificant label was much needed at the time (I was missing my boy) and is now my newest treasured possession. The old gal is the gift that keeps on giving.

So, with everything we’ve been through together, why am I now suddenly concerned about the remaining longevity of my mauve mate, and why am I even considering putting her out to pasture? Probably because my rocker recliner no longer rocks and she can barely recline anymore. The shape of my chair has slowly morphed into something only resembling that of a chair. And just the other day, while attempting to recline, I heard a “pop” as my La-Z-Boy immediately tilted to one side. I hesitantly turned her over to find a small piece of broken wood laying on the carpet. That can’t be good.

My left butt cheek now sits about two inches lower than my right one when I’m all nestled in my chair. The silver lining though is that the new angle relieves a bit of pressure off my ailing right hip, and I’m now even closer to my crossword puzzles and any snacks or beverages that may find their way onto the nearby end table. To be sure, there are a few stains here and there on my La-Z-Boy, but my adored chair does not stink, and there are no holes, rips, or tears in the upholstery to be found. Not too shabby I reckon for something that has shared in my daily experiences, and has seen me through thick and thin, for nearly three decades. I suppose I’m no longer at a loss as to what to do about my La-Z-Boy rocker recliner. I’m keeping the old gal!

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My Hometown

The longer I live away from my hometown the less familiar it seems whenever I go back to visit. Sure there were some changes here and there and store closings every now and then, when I was a citizen of Newton, but with each passing year the town’s transformation becomes more apparent to me whenever I venture back to the place I use to call home. One leisurely drive through Newton, on the city’s main street, and you’d know what I mean. The Tastee Freeze where I use to buy the majority of my baseball and football trading cards and where I would receive either a free parfait or a banana split, for every homerun hit during a Little League baseball game, is long gone. All that remains of the once thriving ice-cream joint is a shell of what it use to be. The empty rundown building, sporting a shingle-less roof, taped-up windows, and with its once packed parking lot now filled only with glass and debris, replaces the fading memories of the “grumpy old man” behind the counter whipping up a perfectly shaped ice-cream cone. It was almost a miracle when on the rare occasion the owner of Tastee Freeze would crack a smile. However, owning one of only two ice-cream parlors in town, for so many years, he was able to take that sour personality of his all the way to the bank.

Creative Touch and Mac’s Compact Disc Shop are also gone. The side by side hair salon and music store, my wife and I owned, was located just off the town square and brought both of us great joy for several years. I remember Mark, the UPS guy, routinely coming through my store’s front door, wearing those ugly brown shorts (no matter what time of year), with his jubilant demeanor and that predictable smile on his face when bringing me a package of merchandise. I always felt like a kid at Christmas, opening the box of inventory I had ordered for the week, even though I already knew of course what goodies were going to be inside. I also remember my dream of Mac’s eventually becoming a chain store, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. After five years of only doing slightly better than breaking even, and with the downloading of songs off the internet beginning to catch fire, I sadly but rightfully made the decision to close my store. My wife was forced to close her thriving business, several years later, when we decided to move to Arizona. It has now been seventeen years since I went out of business. Numerous other businesses have come and gone in that same old building over the years, but high above the door’s entrance remains the visible remnants of stained glue, which long ago held the letters spelling out Mac’s Compact Disc Shop, for everyone in town to remember that “Mac was here.”

The town square, where young adults customarily would scoop the loop on weekends, appears to be the same. The Courthouse, sitting smack dab in the middle of the square, also looks the same, but many of the storefronts surrounding the government building are now different. Long ago the public could always count on seeing large glowing crosses, adorning all four sides of the Courthouse, and a manger scene displayed on the courthouse lawn during Christmastime. That is until some atheist, or other person with an unconventional religious belief, felt compelled to complain about the Christian decorations; therefore, ruining the traditional scenery of the season for the rest of us. The high school where I graduated from, located a mile or so south of the square, looks very similar but on a much larger scale than when I roamed their halls over thirty years ago. Boy, I must’ve received my diploma even before hitting puberty because I know I can’t be that old.

Several years ago Newton’s projected number of future high school students was significantly on the rise, although I don’t know what genius came up with that prediction, so the city put forth a bond proposal, to its taxpayers, for funding a major addition to the school. The proponents of the bond measure continuously hounded the town’s citizens with the ridiculous threat of, “having to teach our children in broom closets,” if the proposal failed. They also shouted the predictable, yet nauseating cry of, “let’s do it for our children,” until the proposal got passed and a costly addition to the high school was built. Now many years later those inflated, projected numbers have still not come to fruition, and if anything the number of students have tapered off instead. I cannot help but wonder, “Why does the school have broom closets anyway?”

Brown’s Shoe Store was the only place in the entire town where one could buy brand name tennis shoes, and it was a town square staple for as long as I can remember. Although I hardly ever shopped there it does seem strange that it is no more. When I was a starting forward on Berg Junior High’s eighth grade basketball team I was practically the only member of the squad who did not wear a pair of Nike high-top basketball shoes purchased from Brown’s. I wore K-Mart Trax. The following season I begged my father for a pair of those sweet Nikes, with the familiar tantalizing “swoosh” on the sides, so I could be like everyone else. Although he thought it was ridiculous, to spend that kind of money on a pair of shoes, my father did offer me a deal. He was willing to pitch in the amount of money he would have spent on a cheaper brand, but I would have to make up the difference from my own funds. The only money I had at that age was usually received as gifts from birthdays and Christmas, or earned from the occasional snow shoveling job, so I’m almost positive I went broke attempting to fit in with my peers.

I was beaming with excitement when I showed up to the first practice of my freshmen season wearing my prized Nike high-tops. That is until I noticed everyone else had moved on to either Adidas, Converse, or Puma basketball shoes, and the few who were still wearing Nikes had upgraded to the newest year’s model which looked nothing like what was attached to my feet. Lesson learned. That certainly may have been the point in my life when I stopped trying so hard to fit in with others, and I became perfectly content just being “What I Yam.” My newfound creed seemed a bit irrelevant though after my son was born. I realized I had his self-confidence to consider, and I recognized the world’s unfair view of the correlation between materialistic things and one’s self-worth. We tend to want to give our children more than what we had growing up, so I decided why not start from the get-go. My wife and I purchased our son’s first two pair of shoes at Brown’s Shoe Store when he was only an infant. One pair was red and white, and the other was Hawkeye colors (black and gold), but both pair of the tiny high-tops were of course Nikes. They were on sale, and probably the previous year’s model, but as a parent I made the decision early on there wasn’t going to be any K-Mart Trax for my boy.

I no longer have a voice in the happenings of Newton, but I do continue to care for the wellbeing of the town I called home for so many years. It was a good place to raise a family, and I have many fond memories of the time spent there. I simply outgrew the small town in Iowa, some time ago, and I’m glad I made the decision to move away. My hometown will always have a special place in my heart, but most importantly the town still holds my family, and that will always be enough to bring me back.