This week, Tina’s choice of What A Treat as the theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge sparked a trip down Memory Lane and prompted me to re-visit and re-capture the glory days of a once-popular tourist destination.
There was a time when we considered spending the day at Long Grove’s historic shopping district a treat. On busy days and especially when there was a Festival in progress you would be lucky, despite the myriad parking lots, to find a space to leave your car. Yesterday it was almost empty.
It was here that we came to buy perfumed soaps and chocolate-dipped strawberries, to eat ice cream in the summer and drink hot apple cider in the Fall. We would browse for hours through antique shops, boutiques and novelty stores.
It was here, too, that I came to find the sort of foods that I missed so much from home; Spotted Dick, Bovril, Oxos, oxtail and Mulligatawny soups (before the ban on imports that contained beef because of mad cow disease and other import restrictions more or less drove them out of business.) Here I stocked up on Christmas puddings, mince pies and Twiglets, and got recent news of home from the proprietor who made frequent visits back across the Pond.
To be fair, the decline in Long Grove’s fortunes began long before Covid arrived, but it certainly didn’t help matters. Remembering the good old days, it was very sad to see all the places that had closed down and so many of the beautiful old buildings falling into disrepair.
Gone is the magical place where you could find all manner of plush toys, much to the kids’ delight, and gone too, the store that sold the best Christmas decorations. No more, the shop that sold every kind of kitchen accessory known to man and, as far as I could tell, even the old apple press (the core of the annual Apple Festival) is no longer functioning.
The old covered bridge is still standing but only just. They had only recently reopened it after having it renovated because of damage caused by an accident involving a delivery truck, when the very next day it was hit by a chartered bus. What are the odds!
But it’s not all gloom and doom. There are still some businesses that are hanging on and people are working very hard to make a go of it. Restaurants and wine bars seem to be the glue that is holding Long Grove together these days, despite the limitations set by the pandemic.
And on the bright side, there is still a touch of whimsy, despite a general feeling of doubt about the future of the place.
I did my bit to help the economy with the purchase of a jar of Marmite (what a treat!) and various other items at Paddy’s on The Square, with a promise to return in a week or so. It may not be how we remember it but, if you are in the area, I urge you to stop by the historic shopping district of Long Grove and sample some of the treats that are still available. Who knows! Despite all adversity there may yet be a chance for the revival of Long Grove’s glory days.