Holiday Cleansers was one of the happiest discoveries I made when I first moved to this neighborhood, although my thirty-five year old relationship with Billy and Kate, owners of a dry-cleaning business within walking distance of my house, began a little awkwardly: “Cash only,” Kate announced the first time I tried to retrieve my plastic-wrapped clothing. As if to say “It doesn’t matter that you and I were just having a lovely conversation about the books we’re both reading. I don’t know you!” But over time and many more book conversations, I was finally deemed trustworthy enough to write a check. Yes!
“Holiday Cleansers?” I verified before writing that first check.
“Yes,” Kate explained. “It’s probably a colloquialism.” (Billy’s mother, the original owner and someone who’d grown up in this neighborhood, had suggested the name as I recall.) So without my even telling you about Billy’s sardonic, wry comments re the state of the world which in no way mask his gentle, loving nature, or about the series of fluffy dogs that were always just there in a series of cardboard boxes next to the counter, or Kate’s extraordinary storytelling talent, you can see, can’t you, why I loved doing business, limited though my dry-cleaning needs were, at this oddly named dry-cleaners cum neighborhood drop-in center—because I was not the only person who loved to just hang out there, too.
Alas, Billy and Kate vacated the premises April 1st; their business and the building it occupied are slated to be razed any day now, a great, great loss to this neighborhood. (and to me, personally.)
If the Universe were fair, whatever is built on that site would be kind. Like affordable housing. Or maybe a fun community-gathering place could replace Holiday Cleansers—like an art center for children. Or, yes, a book store!
I know exactly what Billy would say at these helpful suggestions: “Don’t hold your breath!”