Monday, January 09, 2006

The Street of Dreams

This morning while doing my normal routine (getting a cup of coffee!), I decided to take my to-go cup and walk up South Street. Yes, I see this street every day for almost 25 years, but having spent the weekend swimming in memories of my youth - - I decided to look at the Street from a different perspective.

What I realized is just how much of the street is gone. Sure, we all know that South Street isn't what it used to be ... but what many people don't know is just what it use to be.

I get to the corner of my street (Gaskill) and make a left - I'm 1/2 block away from 5th and South and in front of me is Johnny Rockets and The Gap. Or, as I remember it: Green's Drugs Store and Grendel's Lair nightclub.

From there, a walk up South Street I pass the now (thankfully) empty McDonalds at 6th and South - that used to be Big Jim's Clothing - Big Jim With The Big Heart! He had this huge outline of a heart on the front of his building (probably done by a family member) and I remember before they tore that building down, the facade was cracking. So they roped off the sidewalk and the joke was that Big Jim's heart was breaking.

There's a jewelry shop where Harry Horn used to be -- Harry was in business since the dawn of electricity, selling everything wired. Lights, light switches, bulbs, wires... one of a kind.

Further up I remember block after block of empty buildings - now filled with various 'touristy' shit. I wonder which option is better in the bigger scope of things. Mont Serrat is gone - turned into some cheesy clothing store. A Jamacian-themed store moved into the little place that was once Keep In Touch cards. When they moved down to the 200 block of South, it became In Shape - selling club clothes for the 1980s gay man. Now you can get incense; 10 sticks for a buck.

As I got closer to Whole Foods I crossed the alley that I walked EVERY day. When you look down this alley - towards Bainbridge - you see my first apartment. I was the 2nd floor and I cut through this alley every day en route to anywhere. None of those new apartments were built yet and the street was just slum. 'Cept for Benny.

Ben Krass owned Krass Brothers - STORE OF THE STARS! 902 South Street. He was one of a kind and parked his canary yellow Rolls Royce in the lot across the street from his shop every day. It's now parking for an apartment building, but I noticed it's all for sale (as is everything around here). The Krass Brothers sign is still there - I suppose it was easier to whitewash it, then tear that sucker down.

While walking up the street - I ran into Jill. Jilian Merle owned MOD GIRL - located in the coolest friggin space on South Street back in 1980: South Street Flea Market (where Retrospect is now). It was a batch of vendors all selling punk and vintage clothes and jewelry for next to nothing. Quite often you could just trade stuff for other stuff. Bootleg cassettes or a booth with nothing but indie 45s for sale. You could spend a whole day there (and I did!).

I dug through a ton of stuff (the advantage of being part of the Poster Army) and found a flyer for MOD GIRL. For those interested, Jill still runs a version of MOD GIRL - as soon as you enter The Antiquarium, located on 6th between South and Bainbridge. Her booth is right in front!

I found plenty more flyers which I'll post in due time, but here's just a taste of South Street, 1981 or so... [click to enlarge]

1 comment:

Harveymilk said...

Robert-- I remember South Street flea market. I loved going down there and spending hours. I remember all the hippies with long hair who worked there and I LOVED them. And yes-- Montserrat-- what a good burger they had. So many good memories.