Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Day Segarini’s Market Had Sin on Aisles 3 and 5

Long before Pardini’s Toy Box and later a furniture store took occupancy, the storefront on the corner of Hammer Lane and Thornton Road, was Segarini’s Market.  Elders no longer with us, would have told you that historically, Segarini’s was the neighborhood market for the Colonial Heights neighborhood.  Their kids however, now seniors themselves, have an entirely different perspective on the importance of Segarini’s Market.  

The kids in our neighborhood had three places to hang out:  The oaks at the Indian Burial Grounds, the playground at Colonial Heights School, and Segarini’s.  The Indian Burial Grounds, was our wild nature with trails, a dry creek bed, an occasional Indian bead find, alcoves for spontaneous "Doctor’s offices" and bike trails that popped more than a few tires and bent a colossal number of rims. 

The school playground is where we became monkeys on the swinging rings, gossiped while hanging upside down, and shared candy with the fallen troops who had broken their arms the week before on the Teepee Bars. We even saw a plane crash, but still sadly, had school the next day.

Segarini’s Market on the other hand, is where we conducted our business and matured into responsible fourth graders.  It is where the kids of Colonial Heights learned investment banking, the rewards of hard work and put together deals on our first vehicles. It was here we turned in pop bottles for three cents apiece or a nickel for the big ones. Yes, we learned that size mattered! We all tried phony scavenger hunts requiring 10 big bottles or we would return home losers. We always won. Segarini’s is where we learned to hang on to our money or blow our wads all at once at the candy counter.

The northwest side of the store, out back, is where the pit crew toiled and designed the vehicles that determined the heroes of the Orange Crate scooter derbies.  We would find a suitable orange crate and a store checker named Virgil, would come out back on his breaks, to make sure the wood was strong enough to be supported by our broken roller skates. While making the vehicles, pop bottles suddenly became currency and trades were made every day. Wheels, leather straps, and red licorice to bribe someone to either help or lend a nail; everything had value. 

Segarini’s #5, wasn’t just a store where our mothers shopped.  It was an integral part of the foundation of my childhood. I am writing this now, at 63 years of age, because someone sent me a link to Elvis Presley singing, “Hound Dog”.  Suddenly, my thoughts became all about one short moment in Segarini’s that changed me forever. The year was 1956, and I was still just short enough that when my mother grabbed me by the hand and ran, my feet left the ground. 

Suddenly this man was singing in a very unfamiliar fashion on the radio, over the speakers in the market.  I thought I was in trouble because “I was nothing but a hound dog”, and my feet left the ground.  “What’s this world coming to”, my mom said as she literally played crack the whip and I was suddenly in another aisle. “You would think that woman would have the decency to stay out of sight”, my mother exclaimed, cracking the whip again.  Turning my head around to look behind me, with my feet still off the ground, I saw my first pregnant woman. Wow.  So much to digest, and then came the 1960’s.

My mother, by the 1980’s, was a devout liberal subscribing to Mother Jones Magazine. I was trading money for houses and paintings, and Segarini’s was gone. Well, physically maybe. As long as I breathe, my mother, the 50’s and Segarini’s Market will always be alive in me.  Thank you also Virgil, for taking the time from your breaks, to make the neighborhood kids feel important. You are the poster man for the best of a lost era. 



  1. I remember Virgil quite well. We use to build model cars an exchange ideas on building them. Then I got older and started driving and drag racing. We still were exchanging ideas on car building, only now the were real. Vergil was I great guy.

  2. Art, thanks for commenting about Virgil. It is great to know others remembered him fondly also.