Saturday, March 7, 2015
Dear Granny’s Attic: Thanks. We Heart You
For some of us, Granny’s Attic is a cornerstone of island life. A week without Granny’s is a sere and arid week. Even if you don’t have time or reason or money enough to go, it’s comforting to know that Granny’s is there, waiting for you. In 1975 a group of wonderful women decided that they would sell some rummage and cast offs in order to help fund the new health center, and that they would call this ongoing garage sale “Granny’s Attic.” Granny’s Attic started in the repair bay of what used to be Ev Clark’s garage down on the corner of 204th Avenue SW and the Main Highway. The garage would soon be remade as Minglement, but it was deserted then. The old gas station repair bay doors were opened up, two or three sheets of plywood were put up on sawhorses to make tables, and the jumble was piled on the tables in no particular order. Or maybe it started out in order, and by the time I got there it had been rifled into those disordered piles. People came in droves, and the grannies persevered and moved to Paradise Ridge, down the hill from the health center, and the customers rejoiced, and there Granny’s Attic has prospered for lo, these many years. There was a learning curve to the thrift store business. I wasn’t going to pay three dollars for a used guitar string, for example, but in general the prices were delightfully low. Granny’s was where we had hugs and conversations with friends, and found great finds. I found my Manhasset music stand, for example, and Betty Kimmel held it for me while I went home to get my checkbook. Over the years I have purchased stationery, envelopes, mouse pads, computer keyboards (because I go through them like Kleenex), mugs, dishes, magazines, lamps, furniture, clothes, books – so many books, especially books of humor and cartoon collections, both panel cartoons and comic strips, because I love cartoons. Some of those things I donated back to Granny’s. I don’t buy from Granny’s so much as rent from Granny’s. All those years, all that stuff. Granny’s was my escape, my recreation, my social hour, my chance to shop knowing I could afford most of what was for sale in those two old government-issue buildings. I knew when the store’s move to town was announced that I would miss those creaky old substandard structures. I would miss walking from room to room, checking shelves and crannies. There is something about a human being that does not like to walk in straight lines (unless you’re an ancient Roman road builder). There is also something about a human being that does like the familiar, no matter how uncomfortable the familiar might be. Now Granny’s has moved uptown and taken over the spaces where the bowling alley used to be (“We had a bowling alley?” said my 12-year-old granddaughter in surprise) and where the Variety Store once did business. I went in and walked around to see what the new Granny’s Attic was like. Guess what: it’s still Granny’s. The same people greet us when we walk in the door. The paths through the rectangle are not straight, especially if you stop to see everything, and you know I had to see everything, like a dog checking out all the new butts at the off-leash park. I ran into friends and had hugs and conversations, browsed the whole space, bought one book, and decided that forty years on, in a new home, none of what mattered about Granny’s has changed. So not missing the old place much. All is well. I want to say thank you to the many volunteers and paid staff who have made Granny’s Attic a beloved island institution. You people, present and past, rock. Thanks for all the good you’ve done with the proceeds. Thanks also to the customers and donors for what you contribute to Granny’s. I hope the new home is cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and an all-around better space in which the store can function. I for one am grateful not to have to climb up stairs to use the bathroom. I should be donating things to Granny’s more than bringing things home from Granny’s, but as I sit here writing, I look at the time and see it’s almost 4 o’clock. Too late to drop off donations, but still another hour to browse the shelves. I gotta go. See you later. Post Script: in later visits, I realized how much I missed the windows up at Granny's. The new space does have a sealed in atmosphere. I am still confident that Granny's will go on thriving, though. It really is part of our island life.