June 03, 2005

I wondered what the smoke was all about.

It was just a part of my childhood, that's all.

Spivey's hobby store burns

It was a crappy old building, in a tough and crumbling part of town, but once inside it was a wonderland for kids like me who enjoyed building plastic models, or other kids who built rockets, or the ones who built radio control airplanes and cars.

Spivey's had anything you could think of, and never threw anything out. In with all the new stuff, you could find all sorts of kits that had languished on shelves for years--some that had once been hot, like maybe a Star Wars landspeeder from the real first movie, or a Six Million Dollar Man figure and diorama--and then had somehow managed not to get sold. Stuff like that was still there, dusty, waiting for some rabid collector or just some kid from the neighborhood to pick it up. Old Mr. Spivey, bless him, was always kind of scary to me. He had a gruff directness about him, but he was always patient and full of information.

I had seen some smoke off to the west yesterday afternoon, and figured it was a house fire of some sort. Little did I know what was gone now. It was hard to watch the footage on the news last night. Mr. Spivey was beside himself, wondering why the firemen weren't doing more to put the fire out; but surely he knew that with all that plastic, and all that glue and fuel and paper and mess, there was no way to save it. And there wasn't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at June 3, 2005 12:23 PM

I was really sorry to hear about this too, as it has to be a crushing loss for a man 78 years of age. And I don't know if the equivalent type of business will ever be built in that part of town--at least not for years to come.

Posted by: Stan at June 3, 2005 12:35 PM

I wouldn't think so--he was able to soldier on after so many other businesses left because he'd been able to build up a reputation and inventory over the years. To start afresh in the same type of location would be an uphill battle.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 3, 2005 12:42 PM

Let's hope he was covered with sufficient insurance. I wonder what he would do in retirement, build model airplanes and such?

Posted by: MarcV at June 3, 2005 01:10 PM

Well, unfortunately, his insurance company cancelled his coverage a month ago. He said in one interview that the policy might still be in force, but that's a long shot. As for retirement, I don't think he's the type. I always figured they'd have to haul him out of the place on a stretcher.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at June 3, 2005 01:24 PM

That is sad. When I was in town for my uncle’s funeral in December we came back from the cemetery by Tuscaloosa Ave., hadn’t been down there in years. Sorry to see the place go.

Posted by: jim at June 3, 2005 03:00 PM

Spivey's was Christmas in the dead of summer as you clenched your hard earned grass cutting money and entered the store. Every penny you could dig up, including the three cents you got for every coke bottle you could beg for around the neighborhood in the 60's, went into Mr. Spivey's hand. Spivey's was a kid's dream come true. I grew up in Spivey's store it seems like.
Mr. Spivey is a kid's best friend.

Posted by: Duane Sloman at August 6, 2005 05:50 PM

Hey, Duane--thanks for dropping by. You might be heartened to learn that Mr. Spivey decided not long ago to reopen the store in a new place over on Lomb Avenue. He was able to get some insurance money, and has decided it was worth it to go for it again.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 8, 2005 08:28 AM