You have just picked your grandchild up from school. He is not at all talkative today, and you sense that something is bothering him. How do you cajole him into sharing? One good way is to open up yourself and share a story from your past. A grand spot for doing that is the Northgate Soda Shop. Order yourselves an old-fashioned fountain drink or lemonade or milk shake, and launch into a story about one of your hard times as a teenager.
Now, granted, the place may look less than auspicious, but if your grandchild complains, you might want to tell him that college students from Furman have recently discovered the hideout–whole families too. They love the karaoke and bingo on the first and third Fridays of each month. You’re just taking him there to give him one-up on the latest trends. Tell him you know a thing or two.
Sit in one of the old-timey swivel stools in front of the counter (look for Elvis Pressley’s), and while you talk, let the cold beverage do its work of lessening your grandchild’s stress. After you’re done, take some time to browse through the shop, which has been in business since 1947. Point out the old coolers beside the door and the antique stereo on the shelf. Check out the pieces of an old still sitting on the divider and the black-and-white pictures that form a chair-rail. Don’t miss the gigantic box of animal crackers on the back shelf. Remember those?
Talk about how things changed in Greenville over the years, and how that change affected people–how it was hard for many to learn new ways and habits, to give up things dear to them to adapt to modern technology. It takes time to work out problems and make things better. Yes, there are reasons to move on and yet reasons to treasure the way some things were.
“Did something change for you today?” you might ask as you leave. “You look as if something’s bothering you. Want to talk?” The wonderful thing about the ride home is that you have a captive audience and yet a degree of privacy. Even if the experience has not softened up your grandchild enough for him to share his problems, you will have laid the foundation for more conversation and imparted encouragement and wisdom while doing so.