Since I moved to Zionsville, I’ve been trying to find new common subjects. One is clearly the sign at Black Dog Books in the village; I was photographing it regularly even before I moved here. But I’ve photographed this giant wall three times now, which makes me think it’s becoming a common subject for me. I like the giant, colorful letters.
Shop Tibet Canon EOS A2e, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF Kodak Tri-X 400 2017
Tomorrow I continue my Favorite Subjects series with a very long post about Broad Ripple Village. I’ll give a thumbnail of the area’s history tomorrow, but in short this was once a town outside Indianapolis but is today one of its neighborhoods.
I’ve photographed this little shop over and over again, unconsciously. It wasn’t until I looked back through all my photos of the Village that I saw how many times I’d captured it!
I first told this story when this blog was young, eight years ago. I haven’t been back to Headstone’s in almost that many years. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I still have the tie-dye shirt I mention in this story.
When I was in college, I should have just had my work-study paycheck direct-deposited into Headstone Friends’ bank account. I spent most of it there anyway on used records and CDs.
Headstone’s is a music store in head-shop trappings. Step inside, and suddenly it’s 1969. Or at least it is after your eyes adjust to the dim light. But you smell the sweet incense the second you enter. Heck, you can hear the loud music way out in the parking lot.
The counter is on the left, offering jewelry and silly buttons and, at least at one time, scales and rolling papers. On the right are ceramic dragons and fabric Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix wall hangings and a rack of incense sticks. Then racks of CDs line the wall all the way to the back where a few bins of records remain. In the corner, next to the drinking fountain that has never worked, is a room aglow with black-light posters.
Things do change at Headstone’s. When I first set foot in the place thirty years ago it was half the size it is now, full of waist-high record bins. They expanded into the building’s back section a few years later, and slowly tall homemade CD racks crowded out most of the record bins. And every so many years, when the building’s mural and sign are faded and worn almost beyond recognition, they repaint. On the day I visited it looked pretty fresh.
Headstone’s is seriously old school. They have one location, on Poplar at 12th Street in Terre Haute. They’re not on the Web. They don’t take credit cards. The owners, aging hippies who were younger than I am now when I first visited, work the counter. They keep inventory records on index cards in cardboard boxes. When you find a CD you want, you go to the counter and have someone come unlock the cabinet for you. Then they total your purchases on paper receipts and calculate the tax by hand.
The staff is very low key, but while I lived in Terre Haute I visited so often that they came to recognize me. One fellow named Harold became friendly and came to recognize my buying habits. One day a college friend came by my dorm room and said that I should see Harold next time I was in. He had set aside a promotional poster from a Paul McCartney album for me. The album wasn’t Paul’s best, but the the cover photo, of Paul and his wife taken with the kind of camera used for 1940s Hollywood glamor shots, was outstanding, and larger than life on the poster. “We get this junk all the time and never use it,” he said. “You buy all kinds of Beatles and McCartney so I figured you’d like to have it.” Sure enough! I had it framed. Despite generous offers from collectors, it still hangs in my house.
Harold was there that day. I hadn’t seen him in at least ten years, but he looked just the same – long brown-and-gray hair curling halfway down his back, reading glasses at the end of his nose, and a round, tan fisherman’s hat covering his head. There was a glimmer of recognition on his face when he saw me, but it had been so long I wasn’t sure he’d remember me even if I did give him my name, so I kept to myself. I didn’t find any CDs I couldn’t live without, but just for fun I did buy a tie-dyed T-shirt. It filled my car with Headstone’s scent all the way home. I hated to wash it.
Please don’t revoke my man card, but I like to shop. Even a weekly trip to the grocery store delivers a dopamine rush. And when my weekly trip takes me to the big-box store — ohhh yes, I can spend an hour just wandering the aisles looking at things I didn’t come to buy.
The big-box groceries are squeezing the local players out. Marsh is the last local chain standing. I seldom do my weekly shopping here, as the big boxes offer compelling prices. But I’m suspicious of the big-box meat. Hamburger shaped into a rectangle? Pork chops shot full of “15% of a solution?” No thanks. I prefer to buy my meat at a butcher shop, but it’s a special trip. Marsh’s meat counter is convenient and respectable, and so gets a lot of my business.
But I wonder how much longer that Marsh will be open now that Walmart’s Neighborhood Market is in the area. It became my main grocery store the minute it opened last summer. It’s just around the corner from my home! And their prices are just too good to ignore. Marsh feels that pinch — since Walmart opened, I get a lot of direct mail from Marsh, sometimes with coupons for $10 off the total bill.
My routine shopping is about more than groceries, of course. I fill my prescriptions at a CVS across the street from Marsh. That’s pretty much all I do at CVS — for the non-pharmacy items they carry, pretty much any other store beats their prices. I used to have my color film processed here, but they took out their 1-hour lab a couple years ago. What a sad day.
I’m not as crazy about shopping for hardware and home-improvement items. Maybe it’s because I’m usually trying to quickly pick up one or two things so I can finish a project. The little Ace Hardware near my home closed ten years ago, so I switched to a smallish Menards that was only a little farther away until it, too, closed. I’m left with Lowe’s and Home Depot, both longish drives from home, both enormous and bewildering. Woe betide me when I need something small, as I did this day. Three different employees scratched their heads over where I might find the thing I sought. I ended up searching for a half hour. In a big store, small items might as well be invisible.
I choose Lowe’s over Home Depot because this Goodwill Store is next door. Sometimes they have an interesting old camera for a few dollars. Believe it or not, I bought my favorite suit here for $8.
This Walmart Supercenter is around the corner from Lowe’s and Goodwill. When I went through my divorce, I lived on next to nothing and this Walmart’s prices let me afford to feed my family. In those days, this store was filled with rude staff and angry customers. I hated shopping here. But then Walmart built a new Supercenter nearer my home, and overnight this Walmart became orders of magnitude more pleasant. I can’t explain it. It’s like all of the problems migrated to the newer Supercenter. It’s a war zone over there.
When the shopping is over, I sometimes treat my car to a wash. Works Wash please, and no, I don’t want the extra-cost tire shine. This gives me a few weeks’ respite from a super annoying body squeak my car has developed. It was a tip from my mechanic, who said that an underbody wash is a good, cheap lube job.
It feels good to drive a clean car. And it feels good to wrap up the routine weekly shopping.
Photographed July 14-28, 2015 with my Agfa Clack on Ilford Pan F Plus 50 film.
Word reached me the other day that Rife’s Market, in the Grandview neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, has closed. It was a five-aisle mom-and-pop grocery that would have been a throwback even 30 years ago. Fortunately, I photographed it in 2012 while it was still operating.
I was shooting Kodak Tri-X in my Pentax ME with a good old 50mm f/2 SMC Pentax-M lens. My goodness, could I ever shoot that combo happily for the rest of my life. I got some good, gritty shots of Rife’s. My friend Alice and I walked by midafternoon, and then again at dusk.
Curiosity took us inside. The butcher counter and produce section were right up front, filled with Ohio meats, fruits, and vegetables. Wandering the aisles for a minute, I found some Ohio-made potato chips. I love a good chip, so I bought a bag of each brand. One brand, Gold’n Krisp, was fried in lard. Oh lordy were they delicious.
I hear that Rife’s owners were ready to retire, but didn’t want the family store not to remain in the family, so they closed it. It’s got to be a ton of work to run such a store, for probably meager profit. But I imagine the family knew most of their customers by name. While I know not the first thing about the grocery business, and would probably stink at it, being part of a community’s fabric in that way appeals to me deeply.
How may stores like this could possibly remain around the country? Not enough, to be sure.