Exhibition - December 31, 2011 - February 7, 2012 • Midland Arts and Antiques Market, Indianapolis

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mike- Post VI

Gone When I go back to my small town, I feel that the town that I see is not the town that I remember.  That town is gone. Businesses are gone, retail stores are gone, drug stores are gone.  “Out of sight, out of mind,” may be true.  Deceptively powerful is the impact of place on our memories and once the places are gone, what happens to the memory?  Once you are gone, does the memory then die?  Or does it live on through others?  “Gone” is a pretty powerful term in that it suggests “no more.”  I could have made the choice through my photographs to match photos of buildings the “way they used to be” with “they way they are today.”  But that would be too easy.  Instead, I have climbed into the deeper abyss that challenges us all to keep our memories alive through the people we love today.  My images confront the reality of that potential loss of memory of things we hold most dear.  It is up to us to show and talk about those memories for them to continue on after we are gone.

Mehling's Drug store - This was one of two or three drugstores that had been on the square at one time.  Mehling's was about a ten minute walk from the high school that has been torn down for many years.  The old brick school building had gradually deteriorated over time and apparently, it was decided that a new school building was in order.  I had gone to the old high school and was in the first graduating class of the new school.  I recall seeing small pieces of plaster fall from the ceiling and mice scurrying around the old building. 

For many years, Mehling's had a lunch counter and booths where teenagers and other townspeople would come to eat the typical cheeseburgers, fries, and sodas.  About 1968 or 1969, all of that was removed and was the last of its kind in the downtown.  Probably in 1969 or so, I started to work there part-time.  I would basically keep the store and the rear stock areas cleaned up and would also take newly arrived merchandise to stock the shelves.  The pharmacist and owner was Mr. Pat Mehling.  The store manager was Mr. Sam Hollis.  You don't get any more "Andy of Mayberry" than with a name like Sam Hollis. 

For several years after that time period, new businesses were built at the north edge of town.  A Marsh grocery store and a nearby fast food restaurant were built on the site where in the 1950s and 1960s had been the Jones Dairy.  Our next door neighbor, Mr. Bob Jones (who would head the cast in my version of Hartford City's Mayberry), had delivered milk in the city from that dairy.  As with the changing times in many small towns in our country, Mr. Mehling could hold out no longer and eventually sold out his business and went to work for Marsh as their in-store pharmacist. 

Here are images of the building along with the old and faded sign that would slowly turn during the day in the place that once was Mehling's Drug store.  A knick-nack store has occupied this space for many years.  From cheeseburgers and conversation to cheap figurines --- go figure.