Phoenixville is a weird place.
It had a certain charm, a very long time ago. A very very long time ago. It was a bustling little town which featured most of the charm you'd want to find in a bustling little town, whose retail center was about two blocks in most directions. Why they even had a post office (I'm stretching here).
Then something happened.
I don't know what. Do I look like an historian or something? The place went right down the plumbing. Major stuff closed, like some industry or something. At some point I noted that it wasn't a ghost town because even the ghosts had gone.
Then something else happened.
Perhaps tired of being The Town That Time Forgot, they decided to get hip and with it. A friend moved there and said they were bringing in some larger acts to local venues. The town was giving it a try, and why not; it's really a nice area, with great old houses and the aforementioned business area.
Across the street, with a fine view of the Colonial Theater, is my grandfather's store. Like some of the businesses on the main drag, it has been there forever; certainly longer than ThermionicEmissions has been around. In fact, it could be said that it has been around longer than I've been alive. And if one were to say that, one would be correct.
I kinda grew up in that store. My grandparents got to have their grandkids come to the store for hours at a time, 'helping out' and doing whatever grandchildren did. We celebrated holidays, especially Christmas, with good food and family from all over the place. We learned a tiny amount about business and I got to perform certain duties, even as a frustrating little bastard. There was a large basement, full of dirt. Lots of dirt. Very old dirt. As this town is in close proximity to Valley Forge National Park, it's possible that George Washington slept on it. Or slept with someone on it.
We had our favorite pizza and bakery on the block. The greatest thing for kids had to be the 5+10 store. It was a local Disneyland, with incredibly looooong aisles that you could get lost in. Every variety of candy and bauble and toy you could imagine. I remember parts of it vividly (and I remember very little, which has absolutely nothing to do with drugs, legal or prescribed).
Years passed and we all grew up around the store and the grandparents. Grandpa was serious about his business but also a bit of a wildman, with a twinkle in his eye. One day we watched him chase Grandma around their dining room table. Grandpa started getting really entertaining after a while. At a restaurant, he wasn't happy with the way his steak was prepared, so he picked it up and kept banging it on the table, saying, "rubber steak and chicken nuggets," over and over again. It took quite a while for the laughter to die down. The laughter ceased when the increasing hilarity was diagnosed as alzheimers.
The store was sold to distant family, then kinda passed into family history. It was still there, but the owner was on vacation. Imagine the look on her face when some weirdos popped through the door, claiming to have grown up there.
Three years ago we went to our first Blobfest. Fortunately for me, you didn't have to know anything about The Blob to appreciate it... I never saw it. I have a wife with an absolutely frightening ancient movie internal database. This came in handy today when I mentioned there was a fire extinguisher parade. I think a fire extinguisher parade is a wonderful thing for its sheer randomness. Apparently in the movie, they used fire extinguishers on the blob. I kinda prefer the random version.
The first Blobfest provided an opportunity to visit our local Disney 5+10 store. Unfortunately it had shrunk to almost nothing; the long aisles full of candy were long gone. I swear there were things for sale that were there in my childhood. The following year, the store was closed.
This year's fest was the largest yet, with the festivities expanding damn near half a block over last year's. Don't take my sneering tone as derision - I like the event and the total schlock vibe. Talking about schlock, there's a Miss Blobfest, complete with a dress out of the Munsters, but with lots of nuclear colors accenting the black. Twice as many vendors lined the street, with even more horror-related junk than before. There were more artists with weird... pieces of art. Weirder than the art was the people. I don't know if they all moved into the city or like to visit Blobfest a lot, but they arrived... the weirdos. The goths. There was a mandatory twelve tattoo admittance requirement, which was heartily eclipsed by most in attendance. Last, but most regrettable, were the hipsters. Man buns. More piercings than skin. Really bizarre facial hair. The Smell of Smug. There was also a vintage car show, which had shrunk a bit. We took my parents for fun and the sake of history... they hadn't seen the place in quite a few years either. History came full circle.
In spite of the larger event, someone needs to get hold of the event before it degenerates into a shitfest. It's pretty low-rent. This year's highlight was toilets. Last year there were a few Porta Potties, centrally placed. This year was different... as I understand it, one needed a ticket to use the facilities. The tickets were available at the theater. At the theater, one was informed that they had to purchase a ticket to a movie to use the facilities. If one had some sort of intestinal agita, it made for a Bad Day. Fortunately there were retail establishments.
Fortunately there were retail establishments. Two stores are particular favorites of Mrs. lefty. I think we comprised about one quarter of their revenue last year.
In the midst of two vendors with odd t-shirts and a guy making art out of old vinyl albums, was my grandfather's store. Closed, as it is every year during Blobfest, we went to look anyway. There were the remnants of the alarm system I put in when I was in my teens. But that was it. The store was closed. Out of business. The inside, with its way out of date display cases, was nothing but a shell. One would assume the basement still has the original dirt. It was a bit of a shock and a period on an early part of my life.
I called my brother to fill him in.
With simple wisdom, he said, "All things change."
Rubber steak and chicken nuggets. Rubber steak and chicken nuggets.