Friday, May 19, 2006

A Sticky Problem In My Life

I use rubber cement on a daily basis. I use enough that I run through three gallons each year and you just can't find gallon cans in a retail store anymore. When you say you cut and paste, most people assume you mean you do it on a computer. CTRL-C, CTRL-V. I tell them, "No, I cut a piece of paper and then I paste it onto another piece of paper, using rubber cement." They look at me strangely and show me the aisle where the 1.5 ounce jars are. "No," I say, "I need gallon containers, three of them." They give me a look and a "Sorry, sir, but I don't know of anyone who carries them and I don't think they are available anywhere."

Sigh.

I called around and found that Dick Blick's commercial supply house carried it, in six-gallon boxes, a two-year supply. Fine; that's no problem. Two years later, I called them again and asked for six gallons of rubber cement. "Sorry, sir; we no longer carry it. Our last order was two years ago." ?? "Oh," I replied, starting to laugh. "That was me. I was your last customer."

After I searched the Internet, I found a place and they directed me to their supplier, a nice fellow in Ohio. "Sure," he said, "I sell a lot of the stuff. I even carry spirit duplicator fluid." I was surprised about that and said, "The stuff we used in grammar school that made purple print and smelled so great?" It was his turn to laugh. "The same. You would be surprised how many school districts in the sticks don't have the money for the latest devices and still use the old Ditto machines. I'm sure their students smell the fluid just as you and I did."

I don't know if this place is a nice warehouse with a cement floor and metal shelves, or an old warehouse with wooden floors, wooden shelves and a quiet way about it. I'd like to think the latter. A place where history resides, where the Ditto machine is as welcome as the latest Xerox printer, where you might find a cat sleeping in a corner to keep the occasional mouse on its toes.

I just can't see selling Ditto fluid in a modern building; you need creaky floorboards. We need a place where, when you say, "I can't find anyone who carries this product anymore," the owner says, "How much would you like?"

5 Comments:

Anonymous ruthc said...

Oh, the smell of ditto copies! I can get high again just thinking about it. Made taking quizzes a tad easier.

There's some great old general stores in northern New England that make you feel like you stepped back in time when you cross the threshold. It's such fun to rummage in them.

May 19, 2006 3:52 PM  
Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

Exactly why I do not shop at Wal-Mart. Some things need to be shelved in stores with wooden floors or a place where only the owner would be able to find a box of wooden matches faster than it took you to ask the question.

I remember buying a crabnet at a local hardware store. It was called ''HyMie's'' and it was about the size of one-car garage, but if Hymie didn't have it, you didn't need it. My crabnet was earned the hard way...selling .02ยข Coke bottles, mowing lawns and saving my allowance. It cost $2.10. But Hymie's was a place where crabnets seems at home, stuffed between a galvanized garbage can and several rolls of shades across from the fishing gear and staring eloquently dow nat those small boxes of Mustad fish hooks, the red and while bobbers and a swath of tarred line used for eeling.Everything in Hymie's store seemed to be at home and it was a neighborly type store in that the aisles were maybe 14'' wide so that even the most myoptic items could see the population of nails, bobby-pins, one egg beater and other long gone household necessities no longer seen.

Rubber cement worked great for gluing those rubber hand grips onto bicycle handlebars. Nowadays people use rubber cement more out of nostalgia than anything else. Matter of fact, I know one person who spends late night snack times painting with it newspaper clippings and then putting them on blank paper, and the following day, the person throws away the papers, and starts again, long after normal people have gone to sleep.

May 20, 2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Hymie's ... I remember it well. Neighbor, Buddy Hewitt, needed a washboard for some show he was in. Scouted all over Stratford's big stores for one, without success. Finally went to see old Hymie; asked if he might have one and Hymie said, "What size?"

May 20, 2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous ruthc said...

if Hymie didn't have it, you didn't need it.
That's pretty much the slogan over the door to Fadden's General Store in Woodstock, N.H.
Just as josh says: wooden (and very uneven)floors creating aisles you can barely turn around in.

May 20, 2006 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know of a hardware store like that. Ciesla's in Buttonwood, just south of W-B, off the Sans Souci parkway.

It has wooden floor boards which are worn smooth and creak in places; tin ceiling too. We're restoring a Victorian era home, and needed a certain type light switch for the foyer, sure enough, Mr. Cielsa had it, granted it was in the basement, but it was still in its original box.

The store still stands, though under the new management (after Mr. Ciesla went to the Great Tool Shed in the sky in the late 90s), the ancient hardware isn't to be found.

May 22, 2006 1:59 AM  

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