Have some fun with a “memory stir.”

My mission in life is to help individuals, families, businesses and organizations preserve, celebrate and share their memories and their stories. But once in a while, as a change of pace, it’s fun to delve into my own memories. I do this using a technique I call a “memory stir.” It’s pretty simple, actually. I sit down and ask myself a question meant to prompt a recollection or two. It can be amazing what memories float to the top once I start “stirring.”

So let’s have some fun. What was your most memorable store as a child. What do you remember about it? What made it special?

The store that comes to mind for me is W.T. Grant, on Main St. in the town of Rahway, New Jersey. When I was growing up in the 1960s, Rahway had a thriving downtown and Grant’s was part of the mix. Some impressions: Old, single-story building. A slightly musty smell (not unpleasant) wafts out as the door opens. Thin-planked wood floors creak underfoot. Vintage tin ceiling. The main floor is stocked with linens and clothing; house wares, radios and toys are on the basement level. I feel a sense of excitement every time I descend the stairs to the basement – probably because that’s where the “neat” stuff (radios and toys) is.

But there’s one, specific memory related to Grant’s that’ll stay with me forever. I’m with my mom. She’s shopping for something, maybe a tablecloth or some curtains. She doesn’t see what she wants on the sales table. A salesman, neatly dressed in slacks, jacket and tie asks if he can help. She describes what she’s after. He crouches in order to slide open the door to the storage bin under the table. But – before he crouches, he reaches down and hikes the legs of his pants up just a bit – to give his slacks some slack, if you will. Well, I’d never seen a guy do this before. The action seemed so effortless, practical and “grown up.” Needless to say, the next time I wore slacks I copied the salesman’s technique. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Get the idea? Now stir up some of your own memories!

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