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A lament for Snow’s

Published 10:31pm Thursday, May 30, 2013

I don’t know if it’s still there in my tiny hometown, but Snow’s Video was the kind of place you just don’t see anymore.

Built of cinderblocks, the rental store was smaller than your average suburban garage. Its name was painted in huge red, white and blue letters above a sliding glass door, and multi-colored lights were strung from the building’s corners.

Right next-door was Snow Sandry’s other business — an automotive towing, repair and wrecker service.

The covers of the videos — “Weekend at Bernie’s,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Mad Max,” “Robocop” — always had a thin film of axle grease, which they also smelt of.

The town had no traffic lights or fast-food franchise eatery, so it was never going to have a Blockbuster.

But when I drifted away to larger towns and cities for boarding school, college and employment, such chain video stores, which by then were beginning to stock DVDs, became regular haunts of mine.

Earlier this year, I was saddened by the closure of the Blockbuster stores in downtown Suffolk and, closer to our house, Western Branch in Chesapeake.
Losing track of time whilst picking out a title to watch on Friday night was a comforting connection to the past.

We don’t watch enough movies to justify shelling out for Netflix, but recently I discovered Redbox.

Dad had recommended an Australian movie, “Red Dog,” and I actually found it in the Redbox at the Harbour View Harris Teeter.

The film, which doesn’t require much effort on the part of the viewer, was entertaining in a cheesy kind of way, and I’d challenge anyone not to shed at least one tear over the ending.

Learning you can choose and purchase a film online and select a Redbox location to collect it from has dramatically increased the attractiveness of the service. The first couple of times using it, I’d been spooked by folks breathing down my neck as I stood out the front of a 7-Eleven navigating the touch screen.

But however convenient Redboxes and, though I haven’t used it, Netflix are, they just don’t compare to Snow’s Video.

There’s no friendly, largish, middle-aged woman in a floral-print dress behind the counter — Snow’s amiable wife — a cigarette burning in the ashtray beside her.

And, of course, Snow, who I believe died of a heart attack a few years ago, doesn’t emerge from the garage, using an old rag to wipe the grease off his arms, to help you find a movie he’s sure a guy down the street returned yesterday.

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