We sold all the high end stuff, that at the time you didn't see in department stores.
Brio, Playmobil, Seiff, Madame Alexander dolls, Gund stuffed animals, all kinds of fancy, beautiful stuff, that pleased me immeasurably to be around.
The store was right on the corner of 2nd and Yamhill, with windows on three sides.
I did the window dressing, which gave me a great deal of pleasure.
I had a lot of regulars, collectors and weekend fathers, buying gifts for their children.
I kept a note-box with cards, detailing which tracks their child had, and which tracks they might need, for their wooden trains.
We were a tight little family of folks, a gal named Alesha, who didn't know if she was going to be a lesbian, or not, me, a big guy named Barry, who played in a rock band on the weekends, and worked in the warehouse and my friend Ruth, with her long braid, and serious face.
Among my regulars was a homeless man named Mr. Shirley.
He smelled terrible, and had one tooth that sort of dangled in front.
He was remarkably clever, and made puns with lightening speed.
Every single day, he would come in and shop.
He called me Joanne, and we did a bit of verbal sparing, before Ruth would grow weary of his stench and send him on his way, or spray Lysol in his wake.
Mr. Shirley was a poet, and would fill volumes of blank books, spiral notebooks and paper bags with his writing, which was sometimes not so bad, and often, just the words
over and over and over, filling pages.
One day I asked Mr. Shirley if he had any children, and he told me
Well, you know, Joanne! I like to think Jack Nicholson and Kurt Vonnegut are my children
Which I thought was one of the best things anyone had ever said to me.
Mr. Shirley had fallen in love with a diary we had in the store, that had a little embossed pony on the cover, and while I tried to just give it to him, he insisted on putting it on layaway, which consisted of giving me a few pennies every day.
About a year into the layaway plan, Mr. Shirley stopped coming in, and I became worried, so being the nosy thing I am, I phoned up the residence hotel that he said he stayed at sometimes.
The lady at the desk told me that he had been ill and was in and out of the hospital.
I told her to let him know that Joanne was saving his diary for him.
And then the store moved to the big, fancy, new mall, where they surely would not have let him in to browse and I never saw him again.