Thursday, June 8, 2017

Going to Prices Corner

The first cool place I started to travel to on my own was Prices Corner shopping center. I was about 10-11 years old, I discovered that there was a dirt road that ran right along the tracks along side of the Wilsmere Rail Yard from Dupont Road to Centerville Road. The distance from my house to Prices Corner was about 2.5 miles, flat, and the dirt road was safe from automobile traffic. It was an easy ride for a young kid.

At Prices Corner there was everything a kid could want. Kiddie World was a great toy store, the gold standard of toy stores in the area. They had model trains, bicycle accessories, and all the other any kid would want. There was also Woolworth's which has a lunch counter with water ice, soft pretzels, hot dogs, and other great stuff. Woolworth's also had a pet section and a record section. Other stores were JC Penny and Sears. Both of those stores were not that appealing because of the lack of kid stuff.

I remember many times riding my bicycle to Woolworth's and picking up records. I always bought 45s because I had not really learned of the value of owning albums. Some of the ones I remember riding out and purchasing were Don't Give Up on Us by David Soul, Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones, The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band, and various ones by Blondie.

I also discovered riding the DART bus in this part of my life. The fare to Prices Corner was 35 cents but if I got on with a group of people, I could quickly drop my money in a spilt second after the person in front of me and the money would drop down and it would be impossible to tell how much each of us put in. Or perhaps, the driver just trusted everyone, didn't care, or was cutting a kid a break. But for whatever reason, on days when I took the bus I was able to ride out for a few pennies on many occasions. It was a fun thing to do and I could put together enough money to buy a record, soft pretzel, or water ice.

Back to riding my bike. In those days I would leave the bike out in from of Woolworth's or Kiddie World without a lock and it was never an issue. The ride through the rail yard was always fun and I would get to see the car shop working on freight cars and the locomotive servicing area and whatever locomotives were there. There was always locomotives switching freight cars around, sometimes a through train would roll through, and once in a while I would see something special like the circus train, a weed sprayer train, or other work train. Most of the time the bike rides to Prices Corner were with my buddy Mark Emory, he liked a lot of the same things and we did a lot of bike riding together. Other places we would ride were to Rockford Park, Banning Park, and the Wilmington Riverfront. A lot of the time we didn't have money and just rode out and back or did a little window shopping. When we rode to other places we often stopped along the way at a 7-11 store and bought Slurpees. If we didn't have money it was never an issue to stop and get a drink from someone's garden hose.

Prices Corner was a good first destination but it didn't take long before I wanted to ride my bicycle or the bus to further, more interesting places. To this day I'm always looking for new and exciting destinations.

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