Monday, July 30, 2012

My old 'hood

Sparky and I went to Salem, VA yesterday for family function, afterwards we went into Roanoke, VA to have a look around.  I used to live in Roanoke and I wanted to see if my old neighborhood had changed much since I lived there around 20 years ago.

I lived in the Grandin Road area, the corner of Westover and Grandin to be specific.  I loved that neighborhood.  It had it all, two grocery stores, two dives bars, a laundromat, an art house movie theatre, a branch of the public library, an optometrist, a drug store, a sandwich shop, and more.  I worked for a time at the drug store and for a time I also worked at the concrete pipe plant a few blocks away.  When I worked at Valley View Mall, for a retailer I won't mention because they now suck ass, all I had to do to get there was walk a few feet from my front door to the bus stop and the city bus system took me right to the mall, or most any other parts of the city for that matter.

I had to move from Roanoke when I got laid off from my job at the pipe plant.  I hated to go and leave my perfect little neighborhood but in the long run I see now that it was for the best because if I hadn't then I would have never had the life I have now. 

That's my old apartment, the second floor of the brick house that's attached to the bigger building you can barely see.  It was a great apartment with hardwood floors, two bedrooms, a big kitchen with a breakfast nook, and heat came with the rent.  My landlord was a nice guy who let me keep my place even though I was chronically late with the rent.  All those jobs I worked didn't pay all the bills on time.  He let me stay because I was a good quiet tenant, I checked in on his elderly mother who lived downstairs, and because I paid him a hundred bucks a week, which left me with $75 left over for groceries, cigarettes, booze, and entertainment.  In those days I smoked like a freight train, drank copious amounts of cheap beer, and ate a ton of crap food.  My diet is much better these days.

I used to go see a film at the Grandin, the art house movie theatre, almost every payday.  I saw a slew of good films there.  Among them are The Manchurian Candidate, White Mischief, I'm Gonna Get You Sucka!, Lair of the White Worm, Time of the Gypsies, and Sea of Love.  If I had any extra money I'd buy a cheesecake brownie and and Orangina to have while I watched the films.
The Community Inn was one of the dive bars I haunted while living in my old 'hood.  It served greasy fried foods and any crap beer you wanted.  It had a bar that ran almost the length of the main room and across from the bar was a long row of booths.  In the back room of the place were two pool tables and an entrance to the alley, from the alley you could also access Spike's, another dive bar.  If the Community Inn was hopping or happening, you slipped out the back door and went down the alley to Spike's.  When the girls from Hollins College wanted to go 'slumming' they'd frequent Spike's.  I was much too shy and petrified to ever chat one up but I did love to go and gawk at them while they drank and let their hair down.
Mick-Or-Mack was one of the grocery stores in the old 'hood.  It was the store of last resort because they sold off off off brand shit that you just knew they had purchased at the flea markets around the world.  The place stank of deep fried fat and failure.  If I was really hung over or stoned I'd go in and buy one of their 'deli' 'lunches,' which was usually a a couple pieces of fried chicken, mac and cheese, potato wedges, and a roll.  It usually made me sick later but that was the point, purging my system after a hard won drunk.

The old 'hood's changed a little bit but it's mostly cosmetic.  It's still a fun, funky, good little neighborhood.  Long may it reign.


Anonymous said...

I love posts like this, that show a slice of where a person is from.

And - "I hated to go and leave my perfect little neighborhood but in the long run I see now that it was for the best because if I hadn't then I would have never had the life I have now."

Man, this is the story of my life. It's such a good/terrible/powerful/inevitable feeling.

C said...

Lovely, evocative memories, Dr MVM. And what a classic line: "the place stank of deep fried fat and failure". I think I know the smell you mean...

gmb said...

Man, I can smell the deep fried fat from here. don't have to enter, Mick-or-Mack is a known quantity just from that photo.

K.Line said...

Terrific post. That apartment sounds like a gem.

Big Ern said...

Nicely written!

I'm amazed/ impressed your old neighbourhood has changed so little!

Long may it reign indeed!

Big Ern xxxx

Melbourne Australia

my old 'hood has changed beyond recognition!, then again, so have I !!! )

Kim Hambric said...

I went shopping with my mother every week at that Mick-or-Mack. Perhaps that is what is wrong with me.

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

I was a Thriftway guy myself Kim. Mainly because some of my party buddies ran the register at times and they'd give me free stuff. If I could afford it, I'd go go Harris Teeter in the shopping center off Brandon, the one where the movie theatre and Ram's Head Books used to be.