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Friday, October 17, 2008

Roots and Foundations


Pastel-colored cookies


A work errand required me to go today to a part of town I don't usually have much reason to travel through. It's near the area where I grew up. There's this one main thoroughfare that has small commercial shops along both sides of the road. In a few places there are modern structures that have replaced what was there in my childhood with bigger parking lots and landscaped islands. For instance, the Osborne's Bi-Rite/Food Town Grocery that was operated by the father of the kid who lived across the street from me growing up is now gone and replaced with a Walgreens Pharmacy. It's a corporation that seems to have a penchant for demolishing the past and throwing up uniform brick structures. But on the whole, many of the old store fronts are still there but perhaps with different uses. The store I had to go to (a trophy shop where I was picking up a plaque to present at an upcoming conference) is just down the road from what used to be my pediatrician's office. It's now a veterinary clinic which I find terribly amusing though I'm not sure why. It is a strange 1960s or 1970s single story modern (?) structure of interlocking circles with examination rooms that surrounded a central nursing station. I guess there isn't much else you can do with a building like that.

Something that remains intact among all these store fronts that may have changed hands a dozen times in 30 plus years is Becker's Bakery. It's where my mom always went at Christmas time to buy a coconut cake and a plum cake, perfect rectangles that came in little boxes with clear cellophane in the lids. When I went there with her as a child on her errands, probably a lot like when Lisa now takes 3 year old Ben tooling around with her in our station wagon, I usually got a couple of these particular type of cookies they make there. They were a simple cookie. They came in pink, green or yellow. Not really that sweet. No chocolate chips or nuts or sprinkles. They all tasted the same regardless of color. All in the exact same form, basically circular, but with spiraling ridges. I've never seen them anywhere except Becker's. There are several Becker's locations around Nashville, but they're strictly a local business. Old-time Nashvillians all have heard of the establishment.

I saw the bakery today and was glad it was still there. I'm going through a period where I feel groundless and rudderless and un-anchored to belabor a point and stretch the bounds of linguistic decency. There was comfort in this place that hadn't changed. After picking up what I needed down the street, I had driven past the bakery on my way back to the office before I realized how much I wanted to go in there. I pulled into a parking lot, turned around and drove back to park right in front of the picture windows across the front of the store.

Entering the store apprehensively, I was pleased to find that nothing appeared to have changed in over 30 years. And thankfully, I saw a small tray of the same cookies in the first display case to the left of the entrance. A dozen cost me $4.10.

Where else can you purchase a moment of your childhood that cheaply?



Anonymous Suzie said...

Oh I love those cookies too. My childhood is also wrapped up in that area. By any chance do you remember Sanderson's, the dime store next to Dipper Dan. That may be going too far back for you. It was located in the shopping center where the Regions bank is now. Where Walgreens is, maybe even before the Osborne's Bi-RIte was another grocery store. We used to buy our horseracing cards there. Back then there would be horseracing on tv. YOu would get a card at the store and see if your horse won. Hey, nothing wrong with a little healthy gambling when you are six! I would love to talk about the old neighborhood with you sometime. I'll bring cookies...enough to share.

6:53 PM, October 29, 2008  

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