Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Death in the Old 'Hood

After we finished our breakfast at Vallejo's, SweetPea and I ventured to another favorite from my time in the neighborhood. Sadly, we were visiting the opposite end of the spectrum, as it was the day before Wishing Well, after 61 years, closed its doors for good.

An old friend from my first state job said that she thought about sending me condolences when she found out they were closing.

Wishing Well was a frequent destination for lunchtime walks, and I filled countless Christmas Stockings, Easter Baskets, birthday treat bags and even soaps with treats gleaned from their toy bins.

I was sad to hear they were closing down, but it didn't really hit home until we walked in. The whole place was quiet, even though there were a fair number of customers rummaging through what remained of the stock. It was as though everyone was taking time to say goodbye, in their own way.

They had out everything they had: Christmas decorations, Valentine's, Easter, Mardi Gras and - my favorite - Halloween. It broke my heart to be wandering through the dregs of what was a great Sacramento institution. Better than WalMart or those temporary Halloween stores. Wishing Well was fantastic and local. It was part of the fabric of the community, offering discounts to teachers and responsive to the needs of customers.

We ended up at the Madison Avenue store later in the day. What I noticed at both stores was the largely quiet reverence by everyone there and the red-rimmed, tear-filled eyes of employees.

Wishing Well really was a home to so many people.

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