Recently I wrote a piece about the demise of the old-fashioned hardware store. Well, another retail business genre that’s dipping below the horizon is the local book and office supply store. Shot from the saddle by the young bloods in town, Staples and Office Max.
In my hometown, Greenfield, OH, we had Gossett’s Bookstore. Gossett’s began selling paper, pins, thumb tacks, gifts, books, accounting supplies, typewriters, adding machines, ditto machines, postage scales, staples, paperclips, pencils, pens, crayons, tempera paint and artist supplies, all-occasion cards, Sunday School supplies, school supplies and workbooks, and much more since before Saint Peter strolled in one day and ordered some very large blank journals.
Seriously, every person who ever walked the streets of Greenfield, beginning in 1841, could relate some pleasant memory of doing business at Gossett’s. If a chemist were to enter his lab and synthesize the aromas of all the items I’ve listed above and then mix that blend with the essential oils of aged oak flooring, rubber floor treads, white wheat paste, and memo-fluid, he might have something that resembled the wonderful aroma that was Gossett’s.
Gossett’s was where you went to get birthday party supplies, Valentine cards, candy Easter eggs, 4th of July bunting and flags, crêpe paper for turning farm wagons into homecoming floats, decorations for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They even had a secret drawer where they hid “gag” gifts. Plus, and for me this is a major plus, it’s where you went to get those things needed to scare the bejesus out of your neighbors at Halloween.
To my young mind, nobody on this earth had a better supply of Halloween masks than Gossett’s. Everything from the simplest Lone Ranger style mask with the cheap elastic band that held it over your eyes to the, way too expensive for me, state of the art mega ghoulish molded rubber mask. We had an older kid in the neighborhood who had a rubber Frankenstein mask and every time he put that thing on, even if at Christmas, it would scare me. Probably says something about me being a wuss!
Sometime in late September Gossett’s would put their selection of Halloween decorations, costumes, and mask on display. Several times each week I’d stop in there to stare at all the possibilities if one only had the money. About the only mask I could ever afford were the cheap paper face masks. But every visit stoked the fire. Every stop at Gossett’s added, in a Bolero-esque fashion, to the anticipation of what was to come at the end of October, Trick or Treat Night!
Everyone, I’m sure, has their favorite memories from childhood, and I have many. But, one of my favorites will always be, going to Gossett’s BOO(k) Store!
Follow up: Susan Caplinger Thompson sent me this b&w photo of Gossett’s showing some of their Halloween mask collection. The lady in the photo is Wilma Gossett Everhart who, along with her brother Thad, ran the store for decades.