Let me tell you a little story.
When I was a child, I walked to school every morning – let’s not get into what year this was; I’ll just say, yes, cars had been invented by then (BIG FAKE LAUGH)! – and every morning I passed a carpeting store. Hal’s Carpets. Hal’s was a neighborhood fixture, had operated in the same storefront, with the same staff for further back than my young memory extended, and our community relied on Hal’s for quality carpets at a reasonable price. They may not have been the best carpets available – that honor went to the carpets at Carpet-A-Rama – and they may not have been the best value – that would be Carpet Pete’s (Pete was Hal’s half-brother on their father’s side and they’d had a bitter rivalry since childbirth. They were both dead by this point, but the feud carried on through their children and store managers) but Hal’s Carpets was a fixture and community uniter. Not a Halloween went by that we didn’t throw on our sheets, or masks, or sheeted masks and trundle our pillowcases down the street to Hal’s Carpets bellowing our “Trick or Treats” at the tops of our lungs until we were quieted down by a screaming neighbor, or angry tramp or a hose aimed at us by the local constabulary. We never got any candy on Halloween, – candy and other sugared snacks had been outlawed by city ordinance decades before I was born – but the annual Halloween Yelling at the Carpet Store united the youth of our community and kept us busy while the adults had their key parties and gin baths; and as we trundled home on November 1st at about five in the morning, soaked, bruised and otherwise banged around, we felt a sense of pride, of community, of unity.
When Hal’s Carpets shut down in my third Junior year of High School, you can imagine the uproar. Gone were the carefree afternoons hurling mud and invectives at the carpet delivery vans as they sped off to parts unknown. Gone was the opportunity to transition immediately from Public School into Hal’s Carpet’s Post-Graduate Carpet Management Training Club and Bartender Supply Company. Gone was the sense that we belonged to something bigger. Something grander. Something that might pay us enough money to afford a ticket out of this town that consisted of little more that strip clubs and carpet stores. Gone was Hal’s. We did receive a bit of an economic boost when Hal’s was razed and tourists started flocking in to see the “mystery grave pit” that was discovered under the foundation, but after a few skulls went “missing” from the “evidence locker” and the deacon disappeared, they shut that little enterprise down right quick.
My point being, kids today know no deep appreciation of carpet and paint in public spaces.