March 21, 2016

Their Paul's Pharmacy

As a kid growing up in the Maplewood neighborhood of Holland, MI in the 80's, the place to go for candy was Paul's Pharmacy. And what else was there to spend our money on than candy? I didn't receive an allowance, but my friend Lindsay and I were always scheming ways to fill our pockets. And just as quickly as the coins were earned, they were spent.

At Paul's Pharmacy.
Low-quality picture taken from the Internet. Actual Paul's Pharmacy.
It was a five-minute bike ride from my house. Half a block east to Central Avenue, where the road jogged, and then three more blocks through College and Columbia avenues to Lincoln, where a quick left and a quick right brought us to Paul's.

We would stand in that candy aisle forever, blinking as our pupils adjusted, shivering as the air-conditioning sucked the sweat from our limbs. One dime bought an Airhead, a nickel bought a Bazooka or a Tootsie Pop. It was $.40 for a Snicker bar, $.80 for a Symphony bar, and a quarter would buy you a whole bag of Brach's.

Those. Were the days.

And now I am seeing the whole thing played out again in the lives my kids. Only they don't live in the Maplewood neighborhood of Holland, MI. They live in a neighborhood called Tong Zi Lin, in a city of 12-million people, in the middle of East Asia.
The walk to their "Paul's Pharmacy" takes them through 'concrete park'

That is a kite.
The fruit stand they pass every time they walk to their "Paul's Pharmacy."
The road they walk beside on their way.
Sabrina's, which is their "Paul's Pharmacy"