816 Opinion

July 2, 2014

Granny, cookies and fond memories of a KC corner

Stack’s Drugs once occupied the corner at 33rd and Southwest Trafficway in midtown Kansas City, where QuikTrip wants to put a convenience store. Neighbors don’t want a QuikTrip there.

Ah, the memories.

What’s left of them anyway.

With each passing year, and in my case there have been an awful lot of them, the mental images that were once sharp and vivid tend to fade into the fuzzy shadows.

And yet, there are those remembrances of days long past that persist decades after they were experienced.

One of my earliest and most consistent memories involved a trip to the neighborhood drugstore with my granny. I was 5 or so and she bought me a raisin cookie from a big glass jar on the store’s counter. There was a ceiling fan.

Riveting stuff huh? What can I say? It must have been one awesome cookie.

But what dredged up little Tony’s drugstore adventure is a bit of a controversy that is making waves in the midtown Kansas City neighborhood where I grew up.

That old drugstore on the southeast corner of 33rd Street and Southwest Trafficway was torn down years ago. It’s been a vacant lot for most if not all of my adult life.

Now, QuikTrip is throwing around the idea of building a store with gas pumps on that spot, and many who live around there are not happy about it. Leaders of the neighborhood groups in the area have united to oppose the idea.

We all know that QuikTrip stores have a lot to recommend them. They are clean, convenient and quick, and gas is as cheap or cheaper than anyplace else.

It just isn’t the kind of business that a lot of people in Coleman Highlands, Valentine, Volker and Roanoke want to see.

I suspect that not very many people who live around there now are old enough to remember what that corner and block used to look like. Beyond the vague recollections of my childhood, neither did I.

But then out of the blue, a picture popped up in my email. It was from another old-timer (sorry Paul) from the ’hood who thought I might find it interesting.

He was right. It’s a picture of the very drugstore where my granny and I made that memory.

I found it absolutely fascinating — a little slice of Kansas City’s and my history.

It was called Stack’s Drugs and it sold sundries (not sure what those are actually), liquor, wine and beer. It had other small businesses wrapped around it on both sides.

Before the age of the suburban mall, it shows the kind of commercial strips that were common throughout Kansas City neighborhoods, and provided entry-level job opportunities for young people.

On the same block where Stack’s once stood, I remember a small grocery store where we used to return pop bottles for money and buy comic books. At one point there was also a popcorn shop decorated with a colorful parachute canopy.

Those kind of places are mostly gone now, though you can still find them in some of the city’s older neighborhoods.

Which is too bad.

While a QuikTrip can be a dandy place, I doubt that many middle-aged (I’m in denial) men will someday cherish a time when they were little boys and their grannies took them there for cookies.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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