5/6/2008 - Salvation Army Erie Blvd, Syracuse

how to begin.

i had some lengthy, high-minded dissertation in mind about the nature of this place, what growing up here did to me, for good or ill, all the things that came of it and how they might have been different in other places. i even started brainstorming about it when i realized: isn't that every place? isn't that kind of the most universal experience that we all have - where we are being shaped by where we were? describing the minutiae of my old town and the subtle (and not so subtle) influences it had on me, rolling out all the years of love and bitterness and resentment and gradual peace and acceptance like some musty old carpet...who the hell wants to read about that? that picture above is the house i grew up in. this is my old street.

moving on.

this salvation army facility was constructed entirely from scratch about ten or so years ago, maybe a little less. i don't exactly remember. it absorbed a preexisting thrift store from another location and, although this picture doesn't do it justice, combines with a donation center and a hotel-sized adult rehabilitation center to form a truly massive complex of buildings. it takes up two entire corner lots on erie boulevard, the shopping/strip mall/grocery store/car dealership main drag that runs from downtown to the eastern suburbs. to me it'll always be the thrift store down the street.

to be fair, the place does cover quite a lot of square footage, with the usual racks and racks of clothes, shoes, kid's toys, furniture...all the things you'd expect, i've just spent so many hours wandering up and down the aisles, brushing my hands against the clothes, trying on shit i had no intention of buying, and sitting on the couches watching people shop that it seems like a tiny little place with nothing in it.

clearly that's not the case, though. at least that's what the pictures would suggest. there were two solid rows of respectably nice looking wooden furniture of all stripes, along with the usual deluge of beaten up la-z-boys that some old italian guy probably died in. never really had the burning urge to pick one of those up, don't know why.

quite an enormous selection of books, although at $1 a piece i had to be kind of picky - i only found two things worth picking up, neither of which merit a mention. not to disparage the literacy of the locals or anything but i never really had much luck finding books in places like this back in the day, not that i pored over them as obsessively as i do now, but still.

DID however find this little corker, a perennial fave of yours truly. already have a couple copies i think, either way i didn't want to snag this one but i wanted to showcase it because it inspired me to start working on my own twisted little manifesto in response - it's called "The Power of Negative Thinking" and i'm looking to get it finished...ah, hell, who am i kidding, i'll never finish the damn thing. fuck it.

also found this. does anyone remember this? i had this when i was a kid (actually there's an outside chance that this is actually MY OLD COPY that we donated when my parents moved out of town and cleaned out the basement) and could not, for the life of me, figure out how to play it. i'd like to know that there is at least one person out there on the entire planet who actually figured it out, sat down and successfully played a round of this damn game. you don't even have to have enjoyed it, i just want to know someone got through the instructions. otherwise i retroactively want my money back. OOOH i just got it! the object of the game was to figure out how to play the game! THAT'S SO DEEP! (not actually deep)

rounding out the knickknacks is one of these thermometer/barometer/something other that i didn't pay attention to things, which i literally see all over the place, and confuse me somewhat. a thermometer is one thing. a barometer, while a little silly and i would say grossly unnecessary, is still not totally beyond the pale. combining BOTH of them along with some other completely irrelevant gauge (so insignificant that i looked right at it and can't remember what the hell it is now) on a chintzy plaque that you hang on your wall, to...what? make your house look more nautical? clearly i do not get it. oh well.

i also got something nice and small for my wife, as i promised her i would, but i can't post a picture of it here! she actually reads this damn thing occasionally! she'll just have.....to.......wait..........and...............see. love you honey, miss you terribly.

this GORGEOUS couch/chair set was $100. i was flabbergasted, seeing as this kind of set would probably push 150/200 at least, in most of the stores in memphis i've been to, but what can i say? these people are philistines! just kidding, it's just a consequence of the extremely low cost of living around here. mrs. wife and i had a pretty nicely decked out apartment while we lived here, for maybe half the cost of what's it's taken us just to find something to put our butts on in our apartment in memphis, but, that's the trade off for, you know, actually seeing the SUN occasionally, not to mention better barbeque (don't get me started on what they call "barbeque" around here)

saw this and had a question. it's a laundry hamper, in case that doesn't show, with a nice little silly emblem on the outside, and it was like five bucks or something. the kind of thing i'd probably snap up and take home if i didn't have one already, but i stopped to think about it for a second and i had this question: is this one of those things that's too personal to re-buy? there are some things (family photos, obscenely short bicycle shorts, etc) that for either reasons of hygiene or personal intrusion, i usually won't buy. i wonder if this qualifies, and on which argument? i mean it's obviously vintage and was undoubtedly in someone's house for DECADES, holding all their funky clothes on their way to the laundry room or whatever, which begs the question: do you think they bothered to febreze it out before they donated it? i mean i'm no howard hughes (famous for being germophobic, not everyone seems to know what) but there are lines, and i think this might be one, or is it rather that this thing was so personal and such an intimate part of someone's life for such a long time that i'd never really be able to consider it as mine? does that make any sense?

also spotted this totally sick old sturdy looking desk with a nice dark finish, which is almost EXACTLY the kind of thing i want to run the bookstore sitting behind someday, invoices in one drawer, bottle of scotch in the other. the heart shaped cutouts in the legs don't exactly send the butchest of messages but i still think it's nice.

some longtime readers may remember my previous ruling on exactly what it takes to constitute a proper thrift store, and i still firmly and adamantly stand by it, to the bitter end (little joke there), but i'm also feeling unusually expansive and generous today so am therefore officially expanding the qualifications to include anything with an eagle, preferably bald, on it. the single tear coming from its eye (i don't know if that shows in the picture or not) was kind of a little much though. why you gotta make the eagle cry? who does that help? what does that accomplish? the fuck?

before i get to the rest of the clothes, i just wanted to stop off for a second and bug anyone out who's been using the internet for longer than, say, ten years and show you THIS relic! i had one of these damn things back when 14K was just BLAZINGLY fast! it meant your AOL main screen would load in two minutes instead of ten! i love the technologically savvy younger generation with the iPhones and the twitter and the bluetooth and the earpieces and all, but i kind of have a hard time respecting anyone who doesn't STILL expect their modem to start making ungodly noises (if you've never heard an old dialup modem it's almost impossible to describe) every time they go to check their email. anyway, moving on

so every store has its unique strengths and weaknesses, and to make up for the general lack of any decent records or jewelry or electronics, this particular salvation army has the biggest, silliest selection of "ironic" t-shirts you could ever imagine. in case you were in a coma for a few years (and jesus, sorry, you know, if you were) in the mid-nineties, it seemed like there were about five straight years you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting someone wearing a t-shirt for an organization/event/band that they either had absolutely nothing to do with, or even outright loathed. i had an entire freaking closet full of them, and you still see them kicking around to this day, although nowhere near as prevalent as they were back then. ahh, the ironic nineties. anyway they had three solid racks of the damn things, running the gamut from the sublime

to the ridiculous

and everything in between.

that's my home girl jes in the top picture, looking bemused at what was i think a wal-mart blood drive shirt (like they haven't taken enough from us already, but whatever) and i guess it's time for me to come clean - i actually have a secret network of attractive women all around the country who are ready to bail on everything else and go to thrift stores with me at the drop of a hat. that's what it's got to look like at least if you go back through these entries. whenever i'm not with my wife (hot) i'm either by myself or with another at least marginally good-looking woman - some guys have all the luck, i know. that's actually the real reason i got in this thrift game in the first place, all those years ago: the chicks are just UNREAL. just kidding of course, jes is a good friend of mine from back when i haunted these streets who just happened to have the afternoon free.

here she is, trying on one of the requisite pair of cheaply made ruby slippers from target that are fast infesting every damn secondhand store in the universe. i guess next time i go i'll have to bring one of my lumpy, greasy male friends along with me or something because looking back at my usual shopping companions, it's making me look like WAY too much of a pimp for my own good.

and that's it, more or less. i'm glad i found something to say, i honestly walked out of the place with 1/4 of a page worth of notes because i'd seen it all before, SO many times, and i was a little worried that i wasn't going to have much to say about something that i'm so close to, but we still found some chuckles along the way, didn't we gang? maybe even learned a thing or two about little things like life, love, and 14K modems, huh?

okay, i won't push it. be back next week with another trip down memory lane. i hope no one gets hurt. y'all holding it down in memphis for me? i bet you is. i'll be back soon but until then, always remember:

....uhhhh, nope. nevermind. i got nothin. i guess you don't have to remember anything. good deal!

Salvation Army
2433 Erie Blvd E
Syracuse, NY 13224
(315) 445-0520

take care



David said...

You know what I haven't had in a while? Big League Chew.

mary said...

Man, I want to come thrift store hunt with you and Amy.