Recently on my way to coffee I walked by the back of the neighborhood dry cleaner and laundry. They had the door propped open as it was hot in there, what with all the steam and hot presses going. As I walked past the open door someone gave a suit coat a big shot of steam and a rush of hot air greeted me warmly.
We’ve all heard that smells can instantly transport you back to childhood. That smell of that blast of hot air and steam took me back to Denver, 1967. My mother had recently remarried and moved there with my three brothers, while I stayed back in Jamestown, ND. The following summer I came out to stay with the family until school started again in the fall. It was my first experience living in a big city, Denver was huge compared to the little burg of Jamestown.
Grace worked for a dry cleaners in the strip mall next to the apartment complex. It was a little place, with only a handful of workers and equipment. As I recall, the name of the place was the Spot Shop. Besides dry cleaning, they did alterations and repairs. My mother was a skilled seamstress. The boss would take some measurements, order fabric, and Grace would custom sew men’s suits to fit, so the shop was a good match for her skills and it got her a job there for a while. Until things got weird and she left. You’ll understand shortly.
Their apartment was just east of Sheridan Blvd on Kentucky Avenue in west Denver. The apartment is still there, as is the strip mall. Looking at Google Maps, it looks like not much has changed except the signs on the strip mall. I recognize the neighborhood precisely.