The Walmartization of America is near completion with only a few remote outposts remaining to be despoiled by acres of parking and huge buildings marked by separate entrances for employees arriving for work and employees arriving to sign up for or to receive government benefits to subsidize their below poverty wages.

In recent years instead of enclosed malls and big box stores commercial developers have seen fit to pretend they are returning us to the prosperous and busy small town downtown shopping districts of yesteryear.

They opt less for the linear in design of the infrastructure and present us instead with quirky intersections, curved access roads, and buldings of varying heights, and…most of all…names suggesting you are shopping in quaint old English villages.

So one experiences a proliferation of Towne Centres, Centre Townes, Towne Pointes, Olde Townes, Younge Centres, Pointe Blankes, Olde Shoppes and all manner of distortions of the Englishe language.

But if these were true English villages they would have dirte streets, woode sidewalks, human waste running in the gutters, grotesque beggars seeking “just a farthing, Mum,” and a dearth of handicap parking spaces for gentlemen’s carriages.

Then one could throwe in the occasional gathering of crowdes to witness the latest hanging of a convicted pickpocket while other pickpockets take advantage of close quarters to earn their daily breade. The merchants themselves would be living parodies of Dickensian squalor.

Of course the stores in our small towns had the advantage of being run by individual businessmen rather than  giant conglomerates. Instead of checkout lines we would pay clerks at the same counter where we made our purchases and those same clerks would possesse actual knowledge of the wares they purveyed.

Too, your jeweler would be your former next door neighbor who, when you as a teen boy would buy trinkets for your mother and sister’s Christmas gifts, would allow you to select from affordable pieces and then gladly wrap them while charging you a substantial discount.

Once you parked downtown you could stroll to the 5&10 (cents, not pence), your doctor’s appointment, your pharmacist and perhaps take a break and eat a BLT at the lunch counter or drop by Isaly’s for a delicious milkshake made with—Surprise!—milk.

In today’s faux downe townes you have none of the convenience or economy of what their names imply, that is it is not a return to yesteryear. Instead it is as if a 3-D collection of computer generated images has been placed upon plots of land formerly used as sites for heavy industries.. But these shopping areas do not enhance the sites so much as provide a sorrowful reminder of the loss of our storied manufacturing  past.

My original hometown of Washington, Pa. had the wonderful attributes of the traditional small town main shopping areas I’ve mentioned. And so did my adopted hometown of Morgantown, W. Va. Those attributes are mere memories now, but huge commercial interests seem to believe that adding an “E” at the end of their developments puts them on a par with what has long since disappeared.

However, while recognizing change is inevitable, it may not be real progresse and it most definitely does not impresse me.

Pointe made?

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  • Little_Minx  On May 16, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Delightful. But you omitted Southpointe, where ye olde flightless birdes worke out. (Signed) Ye Olde Minxe.

  • Little_Minx  On May 16, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Didn’t you have the Rexall Drug chain where you grew up? For a few weeks in summer their lunch counter served drinks made like a milk-shake — except with lime sherbet and 7-Up instead of ice cream, milk and syrup. The first time Rexall also gave away free tall narrow promotional glasses with green limes etc. painted on them to customers who ordered this hot-weather delight — even found a couple of these glasses that had survived the decades among my parents’ kitchen effects while, er whilst, clearing out their house.

    • toadsly  On May 17, 2013 at 6:41 PM

      Great comment, Little_Minx! I remember my local Rexall had balloons hanging above the lunch counter. You picked one out, and when the soda jerk pricked it and gave you the note inside, you’d get a reduced price on some treat like a milkshake.

      • Little_Minx  On May 17, 2013 at 9:15 PM

        I’d totally forgotten till now, but I seem to recall that promotion, now that you mention it. Must’ve been nationwide, since I didn’t grow up in this part of the country.

        • umoc193  On May 19, 2013 at 1:00 PM

          In Washington we had two Herds drugstores at opposite ends of the same block of Main St. A little bit farther down the street was a locally owned pharmacy with a massive wooden soda fountain and counter with high backed wooden booths to the side.

          On our hometown Facebook page, though, one of the guys recounted that for some reason he got most of his drugs when a buddy would travel to California about once a month.

          • Little_Minx  On May 19, 2013 at 1:08 PM

            Would those be drugs, or “drugs” (wink wink)?

            • umoc193  On May 21, 2013 at 4:34 PM

              Only drugs, not “drugs” in my time in Washington. But name another city and the answer may differ.

  • Little_Minx  On May 18, 2013 at 6:47 PM

    Oops, we both overlooked “theatre.”

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