Paper and Pickles

I grew up loving the smell of paper, deli sandwiches and pickles.

This nostalgia was formed at a magical place called Malhoit Stationers, my grandpa’s shop in Toledo, OH.

The shop was on a busy street next to an electronics store with a shared gravel lot. Bells knocked against the door like a pendulum and opened to the smell of warm paper- the first of the welcoming hugs.

I still remember lifting large floppy binders holding templates of wedding invitations- pastel, pressed flowers, and tissue jackets.

An entryway to the right enclosed the table where we ate lunch on paper plates with plastic forks and knives. My grandparents looked through glasses at the daily crossword puzzle.

“Pickles?” someone would offer. They’d be passed around at least twice. Deli sandwiches spilling lettuce and mustard were washed down with a satisfying fizz. Bags of chips and pretzel crinkled.

Laughter boomed, loud- surprising to a kid who couldn’t keep up with the conversation. The rest of the office space could be measured in a quiet hum. I liked it there.

Afterward, I’d wander through a labyrinth of stealthy machines to a small ink-stained sink, wash my hands and make my way to stand in awe at the shelves and shelves of colorful paper.

I would grin up at my Grandpa Jack as he carefully chose some stationery for me to take home- as if he knew each letter would hold something special- when I just wanted them for "keeps".

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