Elmore’s Department Store was one of the three more enjoyable places for a young child to visit in my small, Southern, home town. There was the Super D Five-and-Dime which had the best popcorn and hotdog stand for a hundred miles; Western Auto with its mechanical horse on the front sidewalk that one could ride for a dime; and Elmore’s.
Elmore’s had the finest selection of Matchbox cars and baseball cards available. And while Elmore’s was likely not much bigger than a closet in comparison to today’s superstores, for a youngster with a couple of dollars in his pocket, it was a shopping nirvana.
My dad took me there one Saturday afternoon and I apparently wandered away. While searching for those magical Matchboxes my three feet tall frame got lost in the clothing department, dwarfed as I was, by the towering racks of dress shirts and blue jeans.
I called for my father, “Daddy! Daddy!” Nothing. On the verge of panic I changed tactics, and started calling my father by name: “Roy! Roy!” He showed up within seconds. A hundred mothers can hear a hundred children call “Mommy” and each one will know her own. A dad is seemingly a bit denser.
There were a lot of dads in Elmore’s that day, but I needed the one with a unique name. I needed the father to whom I belonged. I needed the one who would scoop me up in his arms, and make things right again. I needed the one who was my father.
In the immediate days to come, millions of Americans will gather around bountiful tables for another annual feast of gratitude. We will gorge on turkey (about 50 million of the birds) and cranberry sauce (80 million pounds or so of the little red berries). We will cram ourselves with stuffing and pumpkin pie.