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Front Porch: Readers put a pin in missing socks and Blue Light-tinged memories

When I wrote about my single sock trauma and asked readers what they did with their mateless hosiery, a couple of folks shared some clever ideas. And my recent ode to Kmart prompted lovely memories for some readers.

Here’s the latest installment of Reader Mail.

Sock solutions

Helen Kennett’s single socks help relieve her dry eyes.

“My eye doctor recommended a moist heat eye compress for daily use,” she wrote. “I’ve found that placing the compress in one of my orphan socks makes it easy to keep the compress clean, and I can wash the sock often, as well.”

Alice Johnson penned a solution that’s easy and practical. All it takes is buying some large safety pins. She and her husband married 30 years ago and are in their 90s.

“Before I said I do, he promised to pin his socks together. We don’t have any lost socks. It’s simple!”


Sometimes a column connects me with someone I’ve interviewed in the past. I wrote Nelson and Marilyn DePartee’s love story in 2018. Marilyn died in 2021, but my column prompted Nelson to write to say that he’d helped with the openings of the North Division Kmart and the first East Sprague store.

Nicki Boures has vivid memories of the 1966 grand opening of that East Sprague store and wrote of the “Kmart Cashew Saga.”

“They gave away hundreds of little bags of cashews to patrons who entered the store,” Boures said. “We kept coming back for more because some of those bags contained 50-cent pieces. I can’t tell you how many cashews I inhaled, but I still love them! A relative I was with at the time cannot eat cashews to this day.”

Brenda Fery and her mom were also at the grand opening. Fery recalls the store was packed, and her mother, an avid bargain hunter, found plenty of great deals.

“When it came to check out, the lines were extremely long, stretching out what seemed to be halfway into the store. At least that is what it seemed like to this 6- or 7-year-old,” she said. “Mom has since passed, but I will never forget standing in that very long check-out line.”

She also reminded me about the Kmart photo booth, where you could get a strip of four photos for 25 cents.

“Since the store was only about a mile away, my best friend and I would either walk or ride our bikes to Kmart to get our picture taken,” Fery wrote. “What great fun this was! This was the late ’60s to mid-’70s when life seemed simpler. We’re still best friends, and I still have some of the photos we took in that old photo booth.”

I can’t believe that booth slipped my mind when I wrote my column.

I still have pictures of me and Dad making goofy faces. Another black and white strip shows me and my best friend from college with our 1980s long, permed hair. Yet another set features Derek and me before marriage, and the final set is my Dad again – this time with my sons, Ethan and Alex.

Some readers fondly recall Kmart purchases.

About 40 years ago, Shirley Kneff and her husband bought a rug for $20 at the Spokane Valley store.

“That was a lot of money to us back then,” she said.

They gave the rug to her sister, who put it in the middle of her living room.

“Any kitty she ever had loved playing with their toys in the middle of that rug,” Kneff said. “My sweet, dear sister passed away at age 81 on Nov. 2 of last year. Because she lived alone, the only time the rug was really used was when a kitty played with its toys. It was still very beautiful.”

Paul Thomas was one of the voices announcing those Blue Light specials.

“I was in Kmart management for many years and was transferred to numerous locations through the West during its heyday of the ’70s and ’80s before Walmart and Target beat them at their own game,” he wrote. “I’m the one you heard on the PA system hawking all sorts of items you just had to get, and boy, what a great bargain!”

Another reader was also a Blue Light announcer.

Martha Bayle worked at the Kmart in Moscow, Idaho, while attending the University of Idaho.

“As a broadcast communications student, I quickly became the go-to Blue Light special host,” she said. “My friends and I always called it K-Marche, a nod to the fancier Bon Marche.

“I recall buying a very sassy bamboo purse during a Blue Light special for 50 cents – not bad for 1980.”

She closed her email with this: “Ladies and gentlemen, the Blue Light is now flashing in the memories department! Stop by and share one of your favorites.”

Your stories have been more fun than a Blue Light special. Thank you for sharing them with me.

Cindy Hval can be reached at Hval is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation” (Casemate Publishers, 2015) available at Auntie’s Bookstore and bookstores nationwide.

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