Monday, June 06, 2011


We made our annual spring trip to Kalamazoo today. A little later than usual, but it was still a successful trip. You see, living down here in northern Indiana, you can walk into a store and have your choice of just a few sports team options when it comes to licensed merchandise. Typically, for spring stuff, you get to choose from the Cubs, the White Sox, or Notre Dame. You'll get an occasional Purdue or IU item, but for the most part, it's those three. But I'm a Detroit Tigers fan, so despite the fact that I live in their local broadcast market, our cable system doesn't carry their games, and I can't find Tigers merchandise for anything. Oh, sure, I could order it, but where's the fun in that?

Kalamazoo has a special place in my heart. It's the first real city that I ever lived in. It's where I lived when the Tigers won the World Series in 1984. I went to college there. I started my teaching career there. It's essentially where I made the transition from being a teenager fresh from high school to being a man. Every time we make this trip, my mind wanders back to those days. Today, as we were driving along a detoured route, I played Huey Lewis and the News's "Sports," an album I used to play quite a bit back in those days. It's funny how memories can be triggered by music, and those memories were certainly strong.

We were headed to Fanfare first, which meant we had to travel north up Westnedge Avenue. It was closed, and it was funny to think that I didn't even need to see the detour signs to know where I had to go. North on Oakland, east on Kilgore, and there we were, like it was yesterday.
Fanfare was the first comic book store I had ever seen, or even heard of. As I wrote about here, I discovered it when I was a college freshman, and it's still there, 28 years later. We stopped in and picked up a Power Pack book that Sera will love to read, a short comic book drawer box that I can use in my classroom, as well as a used art portfolio and a couple of cheap trade paperbacks, also for my classroom. Then, we were off to find Tigers stuff.

Our first stop for Tigers stuff was a flop. While Magi went to Old Navy to find clothes for Sera, Sera and I went to Office Max. I was looking for note cubes and folder. Struck out looking. Bed, Bath, and Beyond, on the other hand, had just the item I was looking for. If you've never used a Tervis Tumbler, you've missed out. They keep stuff cold, and they keep stuff hot. Down here, of course, there were a million tumblers with teams I didn't want, but in Kalamazoo, I found one with my Tigers logo on it. I added a handle and a lid, and now I have the perfect cup from which to drink coffee and iced tea.

We were also successful at finding stuff at Meijer. The Meijer on Westnedge Avenue is where I worked in the summer of 1985. It was a good job. I worked my way up from bagger to cashier, over a summer, and the only reason I left the job was that I couldn't work my schedule around classes at Western. I had a budget for food that summer, and it consisted of a very simple formula: Every day, I would eat four hamburgers and drink a Coke from Hot 'N Now Hamburgers. Back then, (imagine an old man's voice here) they charged $0.39 for everything. $0.39 for a hamburger, $0.39 for a Coke, $0.39 for fries. So, basically for $2.03 (4% sales tax back then), I would eat each day, and that was typically my only meal. Anyway, Meijer had the Tigers stuff I was looking for. I got a pair of sleeping shorts and a new lanyard for work. We passed by the old Hot 'N Now on the way out of town, and it's still closed and not occupied.

On the way home, we stopped in Three Rivers, and the Meijer there had some pens and a luggage tag that will come in handy. So, all in all the trip was successful. It wasn't really about shopping for Tigers stuff. It was about something like baseball, though. It's always good touching base, and for me, Kalamazoo was my second base.