Walking Through The Time Tunnel

I am sure many homes of people from my generation and the one before mine, have bookshelves full of family picture albums, or maybe boxes of them in attics, basements, or closets. Maybe many have family videos on VCR tapes that haven’t been converted to DVDs, or maybe DVDs that have already been converted from those VCR tapes. Today though, we don’t need the tangible photo albums to look back, as we can store proof of our past, and present, on our mobile phone and other technological devices which have made those albums obsolete in today’s world. (As a result of Sally’s and my life together our kids will still have boxes and boxes of stuff to sift through in our attic, basement, and closets, after we leave this earth and they want to sell the house to get their inheritance. It was tough to get them to clean their rooms growing up, but we’ll be leaving them one humungous cleaning job as a farewell remembrance of those days. Sorry, kids!)

Anyway, my generation likes to look back. We had great times growing up. We had great neighborhood friends. We met at amazing parks and playgrounds. We created our own fun in a huge variety of ways. We built things, we rode our bikes almost everywhere, we kept our baseball gloves on the handlebars of our bikes in case we rode by a game going on and they needed an extra player. We bought penny candy, we snacked on nickel candy bars and popsicles. We drank ten cent bottles of pop bought out of a machine. Why wouldn’t anyone want to remember those days and share them with their children and grandchildren?

There are people who say, “You can’t go back,” and they may be correct to a degree. Obviously, we can’t go back to those days physically. (I’m not sure if I climbed down into the sewer via the manhole cover lifted to provide the opening to get a baseball that rolled down there today, that I’d be able to climb back out by myself. So, maybe we better not try that.)

There was a television program back in 1966 and 1967, now available on satellite TV’s Me-TV channel, which starred James Darren, Robert Colbert, Whit Bissell, and Lee Meriwether titled, The Time Tunnel. The advertised storyline for this show was, “Two scientists with a secret time travel project find themselves trapped in the time stream appearing in notable periods of history.”

In various episodes they’d be transported back in time to whatever days the writers came up with that particular week, so in effect they got to go back physically, but since that isn’t an option for us, I guess we have to do it mentally. Or do we?

On Mother’s Day of this year, Sally and I drove to the Buffalo area to visit our daughter, who flew up from Tennessee to be with her son and his girlfriend. We had a great brunch at a local Depew tavern, and then drove through a Western New York “Time Tunnel” to our past, when we traveled to East Aurora and visited a huge store based on many of our past’s growing up years.

Though it is not overly common for me to use this forum for advertising, unless it is something I truly believe others should experience, if you have never walked through Vidler’s Store in East Aurora, you need to put it on an agenda when you plan your next trip out that way.

First of all, in our initial voyage through this time tunnel, we spent about two and a half hours in the store and didn’t see even half of it. Oh, we walked through the whole five room store, but didn’t get the chance to seriously experience all that they had to offer. That was kind of a good thing, though, as if I even bought some of the items I did see and liked, I probably would have had to have worked every day for the rest of this school year, starting the day after Mother’s Day, just to pay for everything.

So, what did this “General Store” offer? Well, I was looking for baseball motif merchandise. I didn’t find any this trip, but at one time a former colleague of mine shopped there and found a Ted’s Root Beer, tin sign, endorsed by Ted Williams, and he bought two of them and gave one to me. So, I asked one of the staff there if they had any baseball stuff, and she told me, not at that time, but they change stock regularly and I should stop back. (Financial-wise I’m kind of afraid to, but I certainly will.) So, I moved to another department.

I had a blast in the old toy aisle. I bought a Paddle Ball, a Train Whistle (which brought up great memories of the first Babe Ruth World Series we were a part of in the 1980s, when the team we hosted was called The Train, and we used train whistles as part of our cheering “shtick” during that series.) I also bought Silly Putty as I love to put it on the comics and peel it off, and I love to roll it up in as perfect a ball as I can and bounce it.

I would have bought a Slinky, but I already have one of those. The same goes for a yo-yo, but I have a few of those, mine bearing the former logo of my Cleveland Indians. I guess I should have bought a Duncan yo-yo from Vidler’s though, because the Indians’ ones are part of our “museum” and are for show only. I was very close to buying a monkey playing the cymbals, but didn’t. I looked through about ninety percent of the kaleidoscopes, saw the old green and brown army men we used to play with in the backyard, the game of Pick-up-Sticks, Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs, and if they had a play area with those in them, I probably would have sat down and tried to build something. I am not sure how the employees felt that day, as I pushed the buttons on most of the toys I saw there and it did get kind of loud.

From the toy department, I went to the candy aisle and saw so much candy from the past. I saw Mallo Cups, Turkish Taffy, Candy Cigarettes, and Bubble Gum Cigars (I bought two pink ones that said, “It’s a Girl” to give to my son and his father-in-law after the recent birth of our granddaughter). They also had Beemans, Fruit Stripe, Black Jack, Chicklets, Teaberry, Clarks, and Clove Chewing Gum. And they had Sky Bars, Chuckles, Sugar Daddies (and Babies), Necco Wafers, wax bottles, Rock Candy and much more.

When I left the candy department I found some retro tin signs depicting scenes from old TV shows that you could purchase. Among them were scenes from The Andy Griffith Shown, and I Love Lucy, including one of the Ricardos and Mertzes trip to California, the very one displayed in Brooklyn Square in our own City of Jamestown, painted by Chautauqua County’s Gary Peters Jr. and Sr. Congratulations Gary and Gary, you didn’t miss a thing!

This is just a small, actually a very small, sampling of the walk through the past we took that second Sunday in May of this year. Who says you can’t go home? Who says you can’t go back? Who says you can’t relive the past? I think many who have visited Vidler’s in East Aurora might have a valid argument with whoever says those things can’t happen. Plan a walk through this time tunnel soon.