My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere

My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere by Susan Orlean

Book: My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere by Susan Orlean Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Orlean
Tags: Fiction
Pakistanis but has a sign out front advertising PESCADO FRITO . Two doors down is Anita Cassandra’s Botanica La Milagrosa—a one-stop religious shop that sells Blessed Spray, Good Luck Bath, and Double Fast Luck Spray with Genuine Zodiac Oil. Next to the Botanica is Crystal Furniture. Up the block are J. C. Appliances, which is owned by Pakistani immigrants; Gemini II bar, which has one little dark window, mostly blocked by a neon Budweiser sign; and Winston Bagels, which has been on the corner since 1960. Across the street are Quality Farm, a Korean-owned greengrocer; Pic-a-Pak, an Italian butcher shop; Cavalier Restaurant, which has been open since 1950 and offers CONTINENTAL CUISINE AND ROMANTIC LIVE PIANO MUSIC ; Fermoselle Travel, which offers DIVORCIOS, INCOME TAX, NOTARIO PUBLICO, INMIGRACION, TICKETS; Charles’ Unisex Hairstylist, where you can get something done to you called “dimensional hair coloring”; and A. Wallshein, DDS.
    Sunshine is the biggest store on the block. It looks like just about any grocery store anywhere: a big, unadorned, flat storefront, with two inset doors, divided by a thin metal handrail, and with huge plate-glass windows, which are always covered with paper signs advertising the week’s specials. One week, some of the signs said:
    USDA CHOICE SHELL STEAK (WITH TAIL) $2.99 LB.
    HARD SLICING TOMATOES “RIPE” 69¢ LB.
    SWEET, RED WATERMELON 29¢ LB.
    EDY’S ICE CREAM QT. CONT. ALL FLAVORS $1.99
    FRESH PORK CALAS (PERNIL) 69¢ LB.
    MAZOLA CORN OIL 48 OZ. BOTTLE $1.99
    SCOTT PAPER TOWELS “BIG ROLL” 69¢ EA.
    BREAKSTONE BUTTER QUARTERS, SWEET OR SALT, 1/2 LB. PKG. 78¢
    Supermarket doors seem to have a magnetic field around them. At Sunshine, there are always a couple of people at the door, waiting for the bus, or looking for a taxi, or staying out of the rain, or thinking about going in, or thinking about coming out, or reading the bulletin board, which is along the outside wall to the left of the doors. The bulletin board makes good reading. This same week, there were notices for a lost pit bull (“Friendly Gentle 1-Yr. Old Male”), an available baby-sitter (“Señora Responsable Cuida Niños”), two tickets to Ecuador, and an entire collection of Bruce Lee posters and memorabilia for sale (“Includes Many Items Too Rare to List Here”).
    One Monday morning, I got to the market at seven forty-five—fifteen minutes before opening time. There were already trucks from Polaner/B&G Pickles, Ingegneri & Son, Pepsi-Cola, Damascus Bakery, and Star Soap and Prayer Candle parked out front. The B&G driver, Wally Wadsworth, had started his morning at B&G’s warehouse in Roseland, New Jersey, and was delivering sweet gherkin midgets and kosher dills. Jimmy Penny, the Ingegneri driver, had come from a warehouse in the Bronx with fifty cases of assorted groceries. Ronnie Chamberlain and Chris Laluz had started in Long Island City and had Pepsi liters. Jim Hazar had come from the Damascus Bakery in Brooklyn, with fresh pita bread. Manny Ziegelman, of Star Soap and Prayer Candle, had also come from Brooklyn. This particular morning, he had a mixed case of Miraculous Mother, Lucky Buddha, and Fast Luck prayer candles for Sunshine Market in his truck.
    Traffic along most of Thirty-seventh was blocked. The delivery trucks took up all the parking spaces in front of the store. A solid line of cars sat in each traffic lane. Across the street, cars were parked at every meter, and a man double-parked in a piebald Mustang was reading the News in a state of leisurely repose; the cars moving down the street were forced around him, like a stream diverted around a rock. Another man was walking in the street between the parked cars and the moving cars, leading a scrawny, needle-nosed dog wearing a jeweled collar. On the sidewalk, five Asian kids were running toward Winston Bagels, which has pumpernickel bagels, garlic bialys, and five video games. Two elderly women were crossing from the entrance of an

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