It’s a typical day at Christie’s Country Store.
There’s a brief lull after the big lunchtime crowd (construction workers, work-at-home moms, stay-at-home dads).
Soon, Staples students cruise in: those with last period free, then those who don’t. For juniors parking at Wakeman, it’s a quick drive around the corner.
They’re followed by middle schoolers. Some walk over from Bedford; others are dropped off by Bedford and Coleytown buses.
Christie’s owner John Hooper loves all his customers. But he’s got a soft spot for the middle school tweens.
He loves it even when 50 5th graders cram his Cross Highway place. They snack, they socialize, they act like kids. (Though John and his staff are tough on them about cleaning up after themselves, and behaving appropriately.)
Parents get a break by letting their kids hang out there. They know they’ll be safe and supervised. Joe — the afternoon manager (“he runs the afternoon program,” John jokes) knows everyone’s names, and what goes on in their lives. The middle schoolers love him.
In his 7 years as Christie’s owner, John has watched many children grow into young adults. After graduating from Staples (and college), they come back to say hi. And buy beer. (21 and over, of course!)
Say what you will about Westport — this is still, at its heart, a small town.
Of course, Christie’s is not the only place here where parents know their kids will be safe, and looked after lovingly. Elvira’s — in a very different neighborhood — is another.
If you’ve got a Christie’s or Elvira’s story — or want to give a shout-out to another neighborhood kids’ hangout — click “Comments” below. Let’s spread the “06880” spirit!