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  • The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

Video Stores & the Quarantine Nostalgia Blues

In the midst of a global pandemic, it's easier than ever to feel nostalgic for "the good old days." For most of us, though, the good old days probably don't look quite as old as they once did. Instead of the '50s or '60s, right now we'd be willing to settle for the halcyon summer of 2019—back before we'd ever heard of the Coronavirus, social distancing or toilet paper shortages. If there's ever a Back to the Future IV, Marty and Doc Brown won't need to visit the Old West; they'll be happy enough jumping a few short months back in time, just to remember how it feels to shake another human being's hand or see someone smile without a face mask.

However, for anyone interested in nostalgia of a more bygone variety, The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library's collection of old phone books and city directories (dating back to the 1880s) is a fascinating blast from the past. The advertisement below, found in the 1997 yellow pages, is one of countless great examples.

Remember video stores? Those quaint, charming places driven to extinction by streaming services and the awful red vending machines that have sprouted up outside seemingly every gas station? Once upon a time, a trip to the video store was an event, an experience! Families piling into the car and chattering about what to rent; anticipation building as the hallowed destination inched ever closer; kids excitedly dashing across the parking lot to be the first inside; the sense of awe and possibility evoked by the bright colors and endless rows of movies; the candy, drinks, and—if you were lucky enough to live near Big Dog Video—even FREE POPCORN!

Video stores were magical places for children and adults alike. They enriched our everyday lives and were well worth having. Now, like so much else in our swiftly spinning world, they have become memories. Memories are important, though, and one function of The Folklife Center is to safeguard them. So, when the Coronavirus is behind us and we can safely gather together again, we hope you stop by to unearth a few memories yourself.

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