Until I was in second grade, I lived next door to a mom-and-pop grocery. They had everything. If you needed a few sheets of paper, it was a nickel. If grandpa gave me some loose change, it would be only minutes before I’d be in the place with the Cracker Jacks, Bazooka bubble gum (complete with Bazooka Joe comics and fortunes), Wise potato chips, candy bars, Tastykake cakes and pies, and ice cream bars. Behind the towering counter, gruff, honest, middle-aged Italian guys with aprons would always be there– willing to turn my dime, nickel, or pennies into treats. (I never remember owning a quarter.) Between visits to the Acme, if we ran out of a necessity, my mom would say “Here’s some money. Go next store (I thought she’d say) and buy a dozen eggs/a jar of green olives/a bottle of ginger ale/a quarter pound of hard salami/a 3-ounce package of dried hamster tails.” They really did have everything. I remember my mom’s raincoat billowing in the wind as she pressed on, going next store to get a really necessary necessity during a hurricane.

I was disappointed when I realized “next door” meant any ol’  building. It didn’t mean that everything you needed and wanted was always right there for you.

Yesterday I watched a video where you type in your childhood home’s address and see the Google street view of that place as part of the action. Guess what? That store building is still there! And it was old when I was a kid! Today I just plain Google mapped it and magnified it to get a better view of the signage.

Guess what it offers now? Psychic reading! Choice of tarot cards or a crystal ball.

Wouldn’t it be weird to go back to a key place from my childhood and ask what my future will be?

You know, maybe Bazooka Joe told me already.

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