Will I grow old
and hang around the shop
Will young guys come
to pick my brain
and use my tools

Back in the day
and I am not that old
stores on Main Street
were open
all year round
I know we’ve heard this rap
so many times
Before the big shots came
and took the town away
But I can still remember
clear as yesterday
How Lenny would
compete with Pete
Dueling drugstores
complete with
soda fountains and sweet treats
After school let out
We’d ride our bikes
and meet

George Henry was
a big and scary guy
The post office was in
the heart of town
Two groceries and
two barbershops were there
I learned cribbage in George Jordan’s
small back room
I prayed his father
didn’t cut my hair
The coffee shop was
right nearby
That’s where my dad
got all the local news
Winters were colder
way back then and
scallops filled the Yacht Club
parking lot
You gassed your car at Colter’s
cross the street
There were welders and
machine shops right near by
The Chappy ferry backed up
and turned around

Town hall still had
room for the police
While upstairs they showed
movies we would watch
from the branches
of the tree across the street
when Lefty opened up
the doors on summer nights
The bigger theater had
burned down by then
The lot stayed vacant
like it is today
I tried to steal a comic
from the paper store
Old man Willoughby caught me
and I got taught

We never could afford to
shop at Avery’s
Except to get a girl
a special gift
But better yet were rings at
Jose Giles
The silversmith from Mexico
and Gay Head
A sweet exotic guy
to all us kids

The hardware was always busy
The boatyard pumped gas
all year round
Since the stores
were open during winter
the clerks that worked there
were our parents
and our parents friends
It was your classic seaside
working downtown
A way of life I hoped
would never end

Remember dear old
Addie Nichols
When I was young
I thought she was a witch
She’d be tucked up in among
her papers and her pencils
passing change back with those
scraggly finger tips
(I can see her clearly in my mind)
Besides Lefty there was Lenny
not the druggist but the
other one
He lived with his sister
Betty Marchant
She sang in the choir
with my mom
Lenny had his little wagon
he’d deliver groceries
round the town
He had a funny sort of stagger
like the old guy in the Real McCoys
We never made fun of Lenny Marchant
not even all the bigger boys

I don’t remember any restaurants
except of course the downtown
coffee shops
Nobody really had much money
you mostly ate what
you shot or
what you caught
(My dad played penny poker
with his buddies)
Coins would sometimes drop
beneath the table
especially after they’d had a
couple drinks
Us kids would find ‘em in
the morning
We’d run down town
and spend ’em on sweet things

I rode the bus to kindergarten
when we lived way out near
Oyster Pond
We rented a tiny camp from
Sonny Norton
There were no other little kids around
Except a family living
at State Forest
they were much older
and too far away
At least I had my younger brothers
we sure had fun
back in those early days
Sometimes I’d ride alone
on the school bus
until it got the kids
from Ocean Heights
They were a rough and
tumble bunch of trouble
they’d almost always
get into fist fights
I guess you could say that
I was happy
when my family moved
into the town
I did miss the rolling fields
and all the animals
the deer and sheep that
used to come around
My mom and dad
liked it better downtown
the car wouldn’t get stuck
out in the snow
I could walk home from school
at every lunch time
All the other kids
lived close by too
Except the gang that lived out near
We’d go out
to do chores
for ‘Lisha Smith
He had the only
working color TV
so he became the favorite
of us kids
After you helped him in the morning
when the cows were milked
the stalls had all been cleaned
We’d run into
Elisha’s living room
and watch cartoons on that fancy
colored screen

The little things in life
were most important
The simple stuff kept the
town in touch
I see that spirit in town meeting
where friends and neighbors
really mean so much

I could just ramble on forever
talking about life in our little town
There would be no time
for doin’ business
so I guess I best be
sittin’ down

— Steve Ewing
Edgartown Poet Laureate