Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Down On Main Street

On the drive to and from Pekin, we passed Streator, a town from my past. Approaching it from Chicago, it is one exit off of Interstate 55 from the Dwight Correctional Center, the state's prison for women with a dandy Dairy Queen across the street. One of the stories in HELL IN THE HEARTLAND is set in Streator, but it is not mine. I once wrote a story, along with Norman Partridge, for Cemetery Dance called "Those Kids Again." On a whim, I had the melodrama occur in Streator, and Rich Chizmar, the publisher, sent me a letter from a fellow who had read the story, grew up in Streator, knew where almost all of my stories are set, and wanted to know how I knew the description of the city so well. We had family there, and I would walk to Main Street via Otter Creek Road. Main Street was failing in 1990, the last year I was in the town. At one point, there had been a Jupiter drugstore next to a place that sold Congoleum. A few sundries stores, not drugstores. And at the very end of the street, the road widened and you saw signs for Bloomington and Peoria in the distance. One of the buildings on the last side street was always my destinastion. The Bookshelf. The store didn't have spinner racks for comics, but were on display the same way GUNS & AMMO and OUI were. They put the comics in sacks, not bags. I'd make the round trip in about an hour and my family never wondered about where I might be. Very close to Streator is a town called Wilmington, and while we had the Majestic Theater (which seemingly showed ADVENTURES OF THE WILDERNESS FAMILY, PART TWO the way we show ROCKY HORROR here in the city), Wilmington had the Launching Pad Drive-In. Lucky bastards....Wayne