Ohio University Court Street Athens

My Favorite Street

The mornings of my preschool years belonged to High Street. My father and I had a strict routine, which I adored: he would dad-strap me into the back of the old, cafe-au-lait-colored, leather-interior Buick LeSabre and drive a few minutes into the busy campus area, which revolves around a long stretch of road called High Street. The walk from the car featured scenic views of litter, pungent sewers, and many, many cigarette butts, but I strode along like Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray (Good Morning Columbus!). My Mary Janes hopped over cracks in the sidewalk because, even though I was pretty sure the breaking-your-mother’s-back thing was fake, I wasn’t going to risk it.

Matthew Henry

Our first stop every morning was the donut shop at 1998 North High Street, where I started the day off with a nutritious breakfast of a vanilla long john with sprinkles and my dad would engage in conversation with the family who owned the shop. I sat at a red barstool with a ripped cushion by the window, sipping milk and watching college students rush past. I’ll never be as old as them, I thought, and how do they know where to go without their daddies?

Next, we headed to the bank at 1928 North High Street so my dad could do what I assumed were fun adult things. The building was architecturally modern, in a 2004 kind of way. The triangular enclave created by the odd protrusions of the building became my stage, where I could practice my newfound dancing skills. I tried to teach my dad how to skip like I had learned in ballet class, but he had two left feet. Inside, the bank was green like money, and my favorite person in the world Awatif the bank lady sat behind a desk with a plastic shield. In a bizarre daily ritual, Awatif demanded “Show me your sticker!” and I presented the back of my hand to her, adorned with a discarded Fuji apple sticker from my dad’s breakfast that morning. When the bank employees got new name tags, Awatif gave me her old silver one. I wore it to school. I still have it in my jewelry dresser.

Our final destination was the record store my father owned and worked at, at 1980 North High Street. The walls of the staircase up to the shop were lined with peeling black-and-white collage posters advertising bands past and present. Once inside, I roamed the endless aisles of the store like a princess in her castle. Although I enjoyed poring over the endless boxes of records, from The Beatles to Miles Davis to Virginia Belmont’s Famous Singing and Talking Birds, the candy machines consumed much of my time in the store. I inserted a quarter, twisted the metal handle, and brightly-colored pill-shaped candies went careening onto the floor; I raced to pick them up before the five-second rule expired. The music my dad played at the store was the soundtrack of my childhood: punk rock, jazz, Motown, obscure folk music, and bluegrass. When my dad asked me if I liked a song he was playing, I always said no (to maintain my hipster-preschooler image), but he inevitably caught me tapping my fingers and toes to the beat minutes later.

Girl Holding Vinyl Record

Thirteen years later, the High Street of my childhood is no more. The routine I once took for granted has now become a nostalgic memory. My dad no longer works at the record store, which has moved to a different street. The new location has no candy machines. The bank was torn down, in all its architectural glory, to build a new Target. The popularity of Buckeye Donuts increases exponentially every year; it’s nearly impossible to get a seat now. The stools are still red, but no longer ripped. The long johns taste the same, though. ​