Closing Down My Childhood
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Closing Down My Childhood

When the Fort Oglethorpe KMart closes, it will join iconic places from my childhood like My Place, Pizza Inn and Fort Lanes as a wonderful memory.

Closing Down My Childhood
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2017/jun/08/sears-kmart-stores-close-dalton-fort-oglethor/432262/
"When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home that you missed but your childhood."
~Sam Ewing

A few months ago, I wrote a couple of articles about growing up in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. The first one was the most popular article I'd ever written...by far. I was amazed at how many views and shares it got. But when I thought about it, I saw and understood why so many people liked it and wanted others to read it.

It described a simpler time for all of us. It described a wonderful little Southern town with characters as memorable as the ones from Mayberry. It described places that we spent so much time in that are gone forever.

But, neither of those two articles talked about the KMart. Primarily, I left KMart off because it was still there...proudly defying round after round of store closings by corporate.

But now, it's closing. Forever.

I no longer live in Fort Oglethorpe. I haven't lived there for many, many years. But it's still home. No matter how much Fort Oglethorpe changes, it'll always be home. It doesn't remotely resemble the Fort Oglethorpe from my childhood, but it's still home. I go back there often and every single time I pass by that KMart, different memories pass though my mind.

My Granny used to take me to that store a lot. I loved going there with her. When I was just a little boy, my Granny made me hold her hand crossing from the parking lot to the front door of the store. Apparently, one day I felt that I was old enough to not have to hold her hand (I was probably 5) and she said this to me, "I know that you're too big, Greg. I need you to hold my hand crossing the parking lot because I'm afraid."

Well, I couldn't let my Granny be afraid and, since I was such a big boy and all, I grabbed her hand and proudly ushered my previously terrified Granny into the store. Mission accomplished, Granny. I figured out much later what you did there. Well played.

I always asked to go to the toy section. Now, she didn't always buy me a toy, but she did a lot of the time. My favorite place in the toy section was the little car section. You know what I mean, right? Hot Wheels cars? Now I realize some of you may have preferred Matchbox cars, and I did have a few of them, but to me, Matchbox was woefully behind Hot Wheels. It seemed to me that KMart had an entire aisle full of those little cars. I spent a lot of time there looking for some new car that I didn't already have at home.

Granny and I also bought several board games at that KMart. We played all the time. Are you aware that one of the all-time greatest television shows, "Happy Days" (I'm not accepting any arguments to the contrary) had a board game? It did and my Granny bought one for me at KMart. We spent many hours playing that game at my grandparent's house.

Back then, the KMart was THE place to shop in Fort Oglethorpe. It had a small restaurant in the back too. Do you remember that? You could go get your car worked on, buy some groceries, get some clothes and toys, and then have a meal all at the same store. For Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, that was pretty fancy.

Those times with my Granny aren't the only memories that KMart provided me though. No, I also worked there in high school. I worked in lay-a-way. You remember lay-a-way, right? That would never work today because our society is so impatient. But back then, you selected what you wanted to buy, the store put it away for you and you paid on it a little at a time until it was entirely paid. Then you got your stuff. Nowadays we charge it, get it right then and wind up paying a lot of interest. With lay-a-way, there was no interest.

Anyway, I worked where the stuff was "laid away". When a customer's stuff was paid off, I was the one who fetched it and brought it downstairs. I got to see people so happy to get stuff that they had saved and paid on for months. It was only a Christmas season job, but I really enjoyed it and thought KMart was a great corporation. I worked at the East Ridge KMart a couple of years later, but that's another story. I liked it there too though.

Soon, all we'll have of that glorious KMart is our memories like the ones I've shared. The big K will come down and will leave a giant hole where it hung for years. I hope the building is filled with a new and successful tenant who creates new memories for the new generation living in Fort Oglethorpe. But, Fort Oglethorpe is so corporate now. It's going to be hard to take the place of a store like the KMart from 40 years ago. I grew up in that store. Literally.

No matter what business fills that space, I'll bet all of us who grew up in Fort Oglethorpe will still call it the "KMart building". That place was more than just a store. It held on for as long as it could too.

So, the Fort Oglethorpe KMart will soon join iconic childhood places like My Place, Pizza Inn and Fort Lanes in the treasure chests of our childhood memories. Places that we enjoyed in a much simpler time in a much simpler town.

It seems that my whole childhood is closing down.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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