Friday, October 19, 2007

Stories of Iowaville: Crooked Hardware

Bill Crooked has a hardware store up the street from Thomas Grocery and Jake's Barber Shop. It was one of those shops that had a little of everything tucked away on some shelf and if he didn't have it, he could get it in a few days. Those stores for the most part have long been replaced by big box stores that have a lot of a few common items. One holdout in the town where I currently live exists and I think of Crooked Hardware every time I go into that place which is as often as I can.

I don't have many memories of Crooked Hardware but I do have a couple of Bill the owner. I remember one windy day while my grandfather loafed down the street at the scales, I wandered over to the hardware store and Bill showed me how to fly a kite with a fishing pole. It was your average plastic kite with a wooden dowel spanning the center and the line connected it up to a fishing pole. Although you still had to launch it the old fashion way of paying out some line and running, once it was in the air, letting out or reeling in more line was as easy as pulling in a big fish. It was the coolest thing in kite flying I had ever seen at the time.

The remaining memory is like so many memories of other stores of that era in that when you shopped at Crooked's place, you had to stop and loaf for a while. (I'm not sure if loafing is a well-defined term outside of this area but it means to stop and gossip usually while enjoying a soda pop with a small group of people.) There weren't any chairs to loaf on so we mostly stood bellied up to the counter while Bill sat inside the horseshoe shaped counter in the one and only chair. I mostly remember being bored of the typical weather and farm talk and always begged my grandfather for a penny to put in the model outhouse that held a mousetrap hidden inside and would explode apart upon dropping the penny in the slot on top. There was a stencil near the slot on top that said, "Do not put coins in here." Perfect bait for a young boy.

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