Hashtag throwback Thursday. Snow starts as a hint in Buffalo then hunches people over for a time before March releases them back to themselves. The winters are dark and sometimes harsh, but not insurmountable. A good snow quiets and calms the soul. It covers up the ugliness for a minute and remakes a place into something original and true. It did for me at least, and I’m sure if I asked, for a lot of other people too. It’s a funny thing about a long winter though, it remakes where you live and then when it leaves, reminds you of what you forgot. Here is a photograph of the little corner store around the block from my grandmother’s house. It is March, the snow has melted, but there is still the rumor of winter. The trees are bare. There is a chance of flurries. The lit windows of the houses are like eyes. Pots of sauce are simmering on stoves, but here is what I want you to know, and here is what I am trying not to forget about the east side of the Buffalo, New York of my youth. I want to make sure I am remembering the little bits and pieces of that place that stay with me. It is hard to imagine, but the corner store around the block from grandmother’s house was a relic. A beacon of the past fading slowly in the present and I am glad that I experienced it. I knew it as John’s since that was the name of the man behind the counter. He knew my grandmother. They were neighbors. Each with accents from Poland. John and his wife ran the little store and lived upstairs, participated in the community. You would open the door and a little bell would ring and then you would step into the store and the wood floor would creak and you were in a different space. This was during the advent of arcade games and skateboarding, but this place knew nothing about that. This was an old punch cash register. It was newspapers and comic books with the covers torn off. It was candy cigarettes and Pall Mall’s. The store was all heavy wood and glass display cases and shelves. The glass case that ran along the right side of the store was full of individual glass dishes of loose penny candy. My grandmother would give me a quarter and I could walk around the block and spend it. I labored over the choice and John, quietly patient, waited for me until I picked half Swedish Fish and half Smarties, when he scooped them out and put them in a little brown bag for me. He took my quarter as though it were a large bill. I carried the bag back to my grandmother’s and slowly unwrapped the cellophane packaging of the Smarties and shared them with her. It was just a little store, family run, but personable and part of the neighborhood. This was the time before CVS moved in a few blocks away. This was the glory before the steel plants moved away. This was the snow covering the cracked sidewalks and trampled down grass of autumn. This was the spring when the snow disappeared and we became reacquainted with the beauty of our neighborhood. Of the quiet lives and colorful candies in glass dishes. Bright welcoming lights. Thin slivers of the American dream. The past unknowingly disappearing into the present and my grandmother saying, here is a quarter go to the store. Here, in March, a thousand miles away it comes back to me and I like to think that what she was really saying with that quarter was go there and see it before it is gone, before it’s too late. Keep the jingle of the bell of the small shop owner in your heart; keep the creak of the floor that the countless workers in the neighborhood made smooth, and don't forget the hand of the person that handed you a brown paper bag full of sweetness.