Dumping my suitcase to do a load of laundry, I realized I had no more clean underwear! One day longer and I was going to have to make some tough decisions!
The stretch of road I drove today; the last five hours of my 2000-mile journey from San Antonio to Stamford, is my eternal road trip.
Since 1981 when I was a freshman at the University of Maryland, I have left my share of rubber on the road between the DC and the New York metro areas.
The road never changes. It’s as familiar to me as the old Yankee Stadium or the house I grew up in on Woodlands Avenue in White Plains.
Today on my way home, along THE corridor, I came within a short drive of nine more dead presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Wilson and Kennedy. I’ve seen them all except for Woodrow Wilson.
I didn’t stop!
I miss my woman and she misses me. It was time to get home.
But I had one more store to visit make! The trip that started in San Antonio at the Allpro show with 300 independent paint retailers needed to end with an independent retailer.
While today was the end of this road trip, it will not be the end of my paint store and presidential journey: paint stores and presidential monument are not such unusual events in my life; it’s just that I never blogged about it before, so it was new to you!
One more store.
There were plenty to choose from! The earth between Northern Virginia (where I stopped last night) and my home in Stamford is the most fertile land there is for independent paint retailers. You can’t throw a gallon of stain-killing primer without hitting an independent paint retailer along that corridor.
And I feel like I know them all! I could have picked from hundreds! But there was only one that made sense.
My father and grandfather bought this store in 1968. That’s my dad Billy, standing in front of it circa 1974. At the time they bought it, it was already a successful paint and decorating store with a good following in the neighborhood: back when neighborhoods mattered in the Bronx. It was painted blue and called “The Blue Store.” For decades they answered the phone “Tremont Paint-Blue Store!” A retail paint and decorating store-The Blue Store, and our commercial paint supply-Tremont Paint; sharing one space and time.
I grew up in this store. When my father and grandfather bought it in 1968, I was five. When you read about my youth in a paint store; of my family always being around, of my parents working together, of my father smelling like paint thinner, of the hand truck races between my father and uncle, it all happened in THIS store.
Over the course of my career, that store changed personalities several times. The paint and decorating store my father ran had to go when I got there. I was on the road selling and we needed the space for more paint, sprayers and a wider selection of professional tools. Tiles became fives of primer, wallpaper books became airless and HVLP equipment. And then back to faux finishing supplies years later, as we shifted back towards more retail and designer driven business!
The final 51-years of Tremont Paints 112-year run, were in this store. For 51-years this store never let me or my family down. It kept us fed and warm through both personal and economic collapse. When I was crashing, it always caught me. When I was rising, it was always the vehicle for my ascension!
In this store, with private security on hand, I fired a person for stealing over a quarter of a million dollars from me.
Some years later, I fired a man for having sex with a prostitute on my desk; in this store.
I developed a relationship with my father in this store.
In this store, almost 25 years ago and on a word processor, I wrote my first column for The Paint Dealer magazine.
I ate lunch in this store: six-days a week for the first decade and five days a week for the next two! The neighborhood’s Spanish restaurants lured my tongue with their variety of pork: chulettas fritas, pernil and chicharrones. Those three foods account for 10 of the extra 20 pounds I carry.
I used my first color computer in this store. It was the size of your nightstand and cost $10k in 1988. That’s almost $22k in today’s dollars!
A few months ago in this store I used my last color computer. It was smaller than my favorite stogie and cost about the same.
I signed the papers to buy this store, in this store.
I signed the papers to sell this store, in this store.
Now it’s owned by Janovic. Another long-tenured New York family paint business. The store looks different after a small renovation, but there wouldn’t be a change they could make that would cause the store unfamiliar to me.
A lifetime of memories all made walking the creaky floors of Tremont Paint; THIS store!
Ground hallowed, by the footsteps of those who came before me.
Thank you all so much for coming on this adventure with me. You followed in force and I was grateful for your company. So many people followed me along this trip that we could have filled a small arena! No shit y’all......I’m really grateful.
PS Re: the picture of the cowboy boots: Gents.....don't ever leave your lady alone for 10-days and come home empty handed. I did once. ONCE!