Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Model Toy Barn

A.B. Charles Hobby Shop, the South Hills's favorite place to go for toy trains, model cars, and thousands of other recreational enthusiasts' diversions, made the news a few weeks ago when it was driven out of its longtime location by an expansionist auto dealer. Now A.B. Charles has found a new home by driving a suburban day care center out of business.

At least that's what some people would have us believe.

In truth, as the owner of the day care center says, "It was purely a business deal". He decided it was time to get out of the business, and took advantage of a good offer. Not that everyone is clear on the matter:

Parents who questioned the day care staff over the past few weeks said they
could get no information, and workers reportedly said they were equally in the
dark on the matter.
This reminds me of the movie Daddy Day Care, where evil Angelica Huston and her snobby day care mansion tried to run Eddie Murphy's home-based day care out of business by unsavory means. I can see this real-life episode being converted into a touchy-feely motion picture in which the day care center employees and parents martial all resources at their disposal to buy the business and save the day care from the evil choo-choo man.

But that would be fictional, the sort of thing that would appeal to Hollyweirdos and other liberals. In the real world, there are no villains in this transaction. Someone wants in, someone else wants out -- it's perfect. I am glad to see that A.B. Charles has found a new home in a better location with parking. It is a very familiar location to me, though I have not been there in years.

When I was a growing boy, the barn-shaped structure was home to Rollier's Hardware. It was cool. Nothing could compare to a big store with two floors that had multiple copies of everything connected to your house. I loved going there with my father just because I enjoyed going inside. I found a plumbing doohickey called a "ballcock" particularly amusing, because it sounded like something that my father would say when he was angry. The toilet plungers also made me laugh, but that was long before I ever had to use one. After Rollier's moved to a more upscale section of Mount Lebanon, the new store lacked the same aesthetic appeal for me. I still go there before I shop anywhere else for hardware, but it's just another hardware store to me now.

I haven't been back to the barn since Rollier's moved out. The first tenant to occupy the space was a Boston Chicken restaurant, but I never ate there since I frequently patronized the BC location closer to my workplace. My wife and I never had any need to send our kids to day care, either. Come October, I will have a chance to reenter the magical building and see just what, if anything has changed about the inside. There will be one big difference, though: Now that I am grown up, the place will be full of toys. This is going to be even more fun than ballcocks and toilet plungers.

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