in the rear view mirror
framing a rich past
Wheeling, late 50’s: A living breathing organism; the population on the verge of decline.
The business district begins at 16th St at the Liberty Theater (the rat hole) and stretches to 11th where the skating rink above the old market house overlooks the Men’s Shop; a popular men’s’ clothing store that caters to the average Joe’s pocketbook. In the summer, songs like Little Darlin, Blue Monday, and Fever blend wih the soothing rumble of skates on buffed hardwood; spilling a more harmonious lifestyle into the streets below.
Downtown Saturday afternoon: Shoppers dart in and out of shops. Five theaters line Market St. low budget horror films, Abbott and Costello, and Tom and Jerry babysit the kids while parents peruse the busy streets of Wheeling.
Bakeries display their goodies in glass cases: glazed and sprinkled donuts, luscious pies peaked in meringue, and scrumptious cakes say come hither. On the corner of 12th and Market, moms browse through the ladies’ hat and hosiery shop while dads slurp fountain cokes at the counter of the five and dime. Between 13th and 11th streets, three shoe stores, complete with x-ray fitting machines, vie for trade. On the corner, a sign hangs in the window of the Joy Shop: Seamstress wanted.
Strewn across this five-block appendage of Wheeling there are numerous eateries. On the second floor of
Eric’s famous steak house, the aroma of Chinese cuisine seeps through the cracks. Further up the street Greg’s Greek restaurant; umm, yummy Gyros. And at the far end of 11th St, Louie’s famous hot dogs.
Shopping done. Pick up kids at the movies, duck in Louie’s and back to the Rose Bowl on 16th St for a night of family bowling.
a gray mist
hovers over the wrecking crews
end of season
Editor’s note: Haibun is a Japanese literary form that combines haiku with prose.