variations on a theme

The theme.
Another Christmas done gone. I have this theory, that Christmas really won’t be “magical” again until our daughter is old enough to where it’s magical to her. I figure three of four years old is probably ideal… from then until about ten maybe. You know, the ages where you can barely sleep on Christmas eve you’re so excited imagining playing with your new Ewok Village or Snake Mountain. My memorable Christmases are all boy-centric, my brother and I rarely pined for dollhouses or Barbie dolls – so having a daughter to impress will be something new for me. But, I’m sure it’s the same girl or boy… Christmas is freakin’ awesome for kids. Where was I going with this? Oh, right – a Christmas recap. Gifting went well, I got a bunch of stuff I needed and some stuff I didn’t even know I wanted. Two of my favorite gifts, even though I’m not a DVD-whore or chronic movie-watcher, are the The Goonies and Stand By Me DVDs. I do enjoy having a “canonical” collection of favorite movies and shows, and those two work well to round out my “coming of age” section. My in-laws are excellent gift-givers, so it’s good lootin’ at their place.

Every time we come to Florida, well, more specifically, our hometown in Florida, I’m amazed how broken-down it looks. I’ve written about it before, actually. I know not all Florida is the same, but it seems like people just don’t invest here – they simply reuse. Buildings go through three or four stores without so much as a coat of paint or changed sign. Broken things don’t get fixed, they just stay broken and you get used to them. Old stores leave and new ones don’t replace them, leaving huge plazas once holding tens of retailers as just wasted space. I started writing this paragraph this morning, and decided it would be loads better with pictures, black and white ones at that. So, I commandeered the mother-in-law’s car, grabbed the camera, and headed out to snap some supporting imagery. Here’s what I got:

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Used to be a Sears, then turned into an “antiques carnival.” Now it’s bingo.

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Row of mostly empty shops. I took my traffic safety class here once upon a time.

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Tagged up side of a trailer hawking Adult Toys and XXX Videos.

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Once buildings go empty, they stay empty.

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More of the same.

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Formerly the Winn Dixie grocery store where I had my 3rd job, a bagger and cart-collector. The first of two of these stores that now stand vacant.

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More empty storefront. The corner store was a drugstore when I was a kid, we stole cigarettes by the carton from the easily-distracted geriatric staff.

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Boarded-up Wendys, broken marquee and drive-thru awning still in place.

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Used to be a K-Mart when I was a kid, now it’s just another huge empty warehouse.

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The Garden Center at what used to be K-Mart.

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This Goodings grocery store opened when I was in middle school, and had closed before I left for college. It’s in the same plaza as the K-Mart above.

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Fresh paint doesn’t make it any less abandoned.

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Another mothballed Garden Center across town, this one alongside what used to be a Wal Mart.

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Space spaces everywhere, and not a car to park. The faded facade of the old Wal Mart.

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This McDonalds is actually still open, but I thought the damaged, yet unrepaired, sign was worth a picture.

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You can still see where the foam lettering once protected this convenience store’s paint from the sun, leaving ghostly faded text offering money orders, lotto, and ice.

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The Van Winkle motel, which, in fairness, is also still operational – just old.

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My favorite picture of the bunch. Only your imagination limits what coulda once been on this marquee and in the store, it’s all dead now.

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Another huge store left to rot in the Florida sun.

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And yet another busted marquee, wasted advertising space.

I had planned to write more, but we got home late and I’m more ready to sleep than ready to write. Last full day in Florida tomorrow, then back to CA for the new year.

Goodnight folks.


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