"Mark Twain couldn’t have penned a finer boyhood than mine. I was Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer rolled into one, and Harrisonburg was any moon-washed river town that Huck and Jim would have floated past on their raft.
While much of the nation forged headlong into the relatively new century, shooting skyscrapers higher and higher and flying aircraft unfathomable distances, Harrisonburg and its neighboring towns clung comfortably to the past, making do with mostly one story buildings, as many horse-drawn wagons as motorcars, and boats that had slowly plied the river for decades.
Anyone making their way up to the town from the river had to pass the top of the bluff, between a pair of businesses owned by Arch Aplin, Esquire. Who was, in addition to being my father, a walking embodiment of an entrepreneur. One business being a cotton gin and the other a general mercantile store.
Before I was old enough to venture out on my own or to go to school, my mother would take me with her to the store every early morning and I’d stay there all day, watching the shoppers come and go. When it was time for a nap, I’d stretch out on a cot in the back room and close my eyes and take in all the smells of the place and listen as women chattered away around the stove.
The jingling bell over the front door and the clanging of the cash register are perhaps the earliest sounds I remember. They’ve played like a sweet tune down the years.
I’ve finally come to realize that they really might have been more than just pleasing sounds. They may have been a siren’s call to the inviting waters of commerce."
About Arch Aplin Jr.
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Published December 30, 2011
Biographies & Memoirs.