Monday, January 09, 2006

"Those BG Days"

Since I mentioned something about the time I lived In Bolwing Green here, recently...

In the second half of the 1970's, I had been working at a local pizza joint, which eventually closed and I had to look for new employment. It was then that a friend told me that the manager of a head shoppe in Bowling Green, KY. (about 35 miles away from here) was looking for a clerk/salesman.

So, with jobs being tough to find at that time, I went down there and applied for it and was hired on the spot. I worked there long enough that the manager, who was also the owner, decided to give me his position to free up his time. At first, in fact, for at least the first three months I was employed there, I drove back and forth every day. I had this old Ford Maverick and the thermostate didn't work in it although I'd changed it more than once. The temperatures were most of the time below freezing, and I'd have to bring a blanket with me to cover my lower body as I drove. I literally scraped ice off the inside windshield as I drove down the interstate highway. When I finally got a thermostate that worked and got heat in that old Ford, it was like Heaven!

Eventually, after getting stuck in a couple of big snow falls where I couldn't drive back home and had to stay overnight at the boss's place for a few days, he got tired of seeing my face all the time and helped me with the extra cash I needed to rent an apartment in BG; in fact, it was only about a block and a half from the store and usually I'd just walk to work every day and back.

The store opened at 9AM so I'd leave by 8AM, go inside the store and turn up the heat, open the registers, then lock everything back and go up the square (because the head shoppe was actually located right down in the middle of town) to the Woolworth's Store for a quick cuppa joe and breakfast before I began the day's work.

After we closed at 5:30 PM, I'd drop off the deposit, and, since I lived alone, usually I'd go to a nearby restaurant for a bite before heading home. (This was where I met a waitress that ended up living with me in BG for over a year, but... that's a whole different story).

I think that's when I reached any "high point" of popularity in my life, since it seemed that there were few college students (which attended Western U. there in the city), local hippy and/or musician that didn't seem to know me, if not by name, then at least by the "Hey! There's the guy that runs the head shoppe!"-title. I got invited to countless parties and was bought innumberable free drinks at local bars (a LOT of which I passed on because, well, even though I looked the part back then and knew my business and patrons well, I was never what one would call an actual stoner), and was everybody's "friend".

Anyway, at this head shoppe we carried the usually array of paraphenalia: pipes, black light posters (even had a special room for those where you could view them all), t-shirts (and we'd put hot iron transfer designs and/or letters on them while you waited), silver & torquoise Native American-type jewelry, bongs (a rather large assortment), glass "carborators", fancy roach clips, underground comix, and a large number of different types of "rolling" papers.

At one time I counted nearly 200 different brands and types of these papers we had in stock. Everything from flavored ones (strawberry, chocolate, plum, banana, etc.) to ones with designs (like dollar bills, American Flags and draft cards), to 1.5's, Double Wides, Extra Longs, Wheats, Rice, etc., etc. And with names like Zig Zag, Bambu, Roach, Leaves, uRol, JOB, OCB, 1.25's, Weed, Foxy Brown, Export, Wrappers, Cherniak, Northern Rollers, American Dream, Whitehall, Alfa, Ritzla, E-Z Wider, Smoking, 1/2's, Legalize It, Van Nellie's, French Connection, Blanco Negro, Good Leaf, Canada Goose, Mr. Natural's (My personal favorite!), Esmeralda, Foy, Reefer Rollers, Top, Joint Wides, Instant Roach (with the built-in wire clip), Cool Leaf, Joker, Bugler, and the list goes on and on, all in myriad sizes and flavors.

So...I decided to start a collection of them. I'd collect empty packs; some I'd buy just for the packs, some friends would donate, and I started pasting them to a large framed board. And when I say "large", it measured 2 x 3 foot. I'd also paste designs and ads and the like out of various "head" magazines. I collected so many of them that I eventually had to start a second board for the over-flow!

When I finally got these full I hung them up on the walls of my apartment and my friends would come by and look at them and comment on ones they'd never seen before and state something about some that they'd personally used. They were an interesting conversation piece, and a little part of hippy history.

So, as time went by, so did that job when BG outlawed head shops from the city and I lost my position there to finally move back down to my hometown to find work again. The boards came with me and got stored in the basement of my parents, and there they stayed from 1980 or so, until just this last week when I noticed them collecting dust in a corner while I was taking my folk's Christmas decorations back down the steps for storage.

I brought them back to my house, cleaned the dust off of them, and looked them over again, recapturing a few old memories of those head shoppe days in BG. Oh, they're missing a few packages now, either from time making the glue come off or maybe someone snitching one or two 'cause they liked the designs, but 99% are still there. The photo above is one of them (I think, the second board I started) and here is a shot of the other (not the best of photos due to the glare, but good enough to give you a general idea of them).

I doubt if I'll rehang these anywhere again. They'll more than likely just go out in the storage building with a lot of other old memories. But it was nice to visit with a couple of friends again for a little while.


At 4:43 PM , Blogger Johnny Bacardi said...

Hey, don't store those before I can get over there to see them! I remember those well. I also remember the Hip Pocket well, too...I think. Actually, I don't remember a lot from those days at all.

I do remember those funny commercials the H.P. had for a while there that aired on Natural 97, with the guys doing the Cheech & Chong imitations and saying "Hey, man, I got crabs at the Hip Pocket!"

"Oh, wow, man, I don't wanna go there!"

"NO, MAN- hermit crabs! At the Hip Pocket!"

I forget the rest...

At 3:53 PM , Blogger ~D.Puck' said...

Remember the little bags of crab food we sold that I did a cartoony drawing of a crab on it? (Those were just bags of oatmeal! But the little suckers seemed to love it! After the owner closed that shop, he stored the crabs in a display case in the basement and went on vacation for a week. When he got back, all of the crabs were dead AND decaying! He had to burn the case and fumagate his house! (Serves him right!)


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