Friday, April 23, 2010

Dick's Old-Time 5 and 10 Cent Store

Saturday, March 20, Branson, MO

I used the pool Sat. a.m., got some good water exercise, but I really need and am looking forward to the Hydro-fit classes at the Fitness Formula Center.
We went to Bleu Olive for lunch, which was really good and the baklava was outstanding as expected.
Then we went to Dick’s Oldtime 5 and 10 cent store.This store was a mandatory stop for me in this trip to Branson. Last Thanksgiving, we were also there on a Saturday. It wasn’t raining in November, as it was this March. I saw lots of people standing around in front of the store. After returning from Branson, I decided that if I ever went back there, I would go to Dick’s Oldtime 5 and 10 cent store, and would talk with people about why they came to this store and what they liked about it. Here’s what I came away with:
1. I approached a woman who appeared to me to be middle-aged and asked if I could talk with her. She looked a little surprised and drew back a little before I told her I was writing a travel blog. She relaxed and said she would talk with me. She lives in Southern Missouri. When she was a child she and her sister came with their parents to the story. She hasn’t been to this store for a long time, likes coming back. She said that the person to ask about why they like coming back was her sister, who came out almost immediately. The sister said that they came here as children, brought their children here, and now are bringing their grandchildren. She smiled.
2. A woman from Minnesota said this was her first time here. She said, “I’m terminally ill. This is my [sounded like ‘last trip.’] She wanted to see the Dixie Stampede, which she had seen. [The link in this sentence is for a reduced-price stay in Branson, if you attend a time-share presentation.] She enjoyed the show and the store. I asked her if she had seen the washing machines at the front of the store. She had not.
3. I talked with a woman at the front of the store, saying that I didn’t want to keep her when her husband came along. She said I told my husband I had the chance to go on this trip and he gave me the money and said, go ahead. She said she lived in CT, they flew to St. Louis, which they visited, then drove to KC, and now to Branson. They’ll go back to SL and fly back from there. She said they had been to College of the Ozarks, which had really impressed her. She thought it was a good school for her children (grandchildren?). They already have the good work ethic, mowing lawns and the like.
4. A short elderly woman, maybe 4½ feet tall, was looking up to the ceiling, in what I consider the classic kaleidoscope posture. I asked her if she ever gets to AZ. She said not since her husband died in about 1994 or 1999. They used to get there quite a bit. However, a few days ago, some of the women in her family decided to take a girls holiday to Branson. I told her about the store in Jerome AZ which had some of the most fantastic and creative kaleidoscopes I have ever seen. I said this really takes us back, doesn’t it. She said yes, and looks at these jacks. Real metal,
not like the other plastic jacks they make today. Right beneath the metal jacks was a package of plastic jacks. They just don’t spread out like the metal ones. I used the metal ones to play as a girl, I taught my daughters and my granddaughters, and even my nieces. I told her about the marble machine at the front of the store. She said, oh, I love that kind of machine. She said that she didn’t get to the store last year, so we had to get here this time. Glad we made it. I also mentioned the washing machines to her.
5. Around the end of the aisle I was visiting, a woman said, “Oh, my goodness. I used to play this when I was a kid.” In her hand, she held a game of 4 colors, which she described as a memory game, except that her childhood game was about 3 times the diameter of the one she held in her hands. She and her sister went on and found another object, like a kaleidoscope, but about two and one half inches in diameter and about a foot long. This tube was packed with little room to spare with rice-size colored bits and many identifiable small items, such as a rubber band and a number of dies with dots or letters on them. As one turned the tube, one or two of these items would emerge from the multi-colored background. The object was to identify as many items as possible (within a specified period of time?). The sister said that Johnny would like this toy.
6. As I was entering the door on the west end of the store, I saw a family gathered with a toddler in a woman’s arms. He was wearing a hat in the shape of a hot dog and bun. The hat was twice as long as the boy’s face from front to back. Grandmother, so it seemed, was taking a lot of pix of him with this hat on.
7. I noticed a number of games based on Monopoly,like Sooneropoly, Kansasopoly, Princessopoly. There were potato guns, which fire up to 300 shots safely.

The website of Dick’s Oldtime 5 and 10 cent store says that Dick founded the store around 1960. By that time he had about ten years experience in the 5 and dime industry. He had become manager of two stores. Some people in Branson thought that there was no need for a 5 and dime in Branson, but Dick worked hard, for years as the only employee, doing all the work himself. The early years were difficult, but Dick persisted, and when a competitor failed in 1970, Dick bought the store. It’s the present location. At about that time, Dick sought to differentiate himself from competitors by introducing his collections. His website mentions his collections of World War II model airplanes, photos of warplanes, arrowheads, trains. But it doesn’t mention the collection of old washing machines atop the shelves in the two rows directly in front of the east entrance. I think they’re astounding. At Dick’s the past is all it was stacked up to be, and more.

© J. Russell Burck, 2010

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