Polly & Jake’s

Candice eetimesBack when I was in grad school at Stanford, in the early 1980’s my friends and I would remark on the odd existence of Polly & Jake’s, a storefront on the south-east corner of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real.  The painted sign on the parapet, just below the name of the shop, was the inscription, “Est. 1929”.  The windows were dusty, never cleaned.  Peering inside one could see that it was filled with cheap knick-nacks, bric-a-brak, and green depression glass, also gathering dust.  The place looked like it hadn’t been open since the 1930’s.  No matter what time of day or evening, when ever we tried visit, it was never open.  It was one of those odd mysteries that invite ever stranger explanations.  The most common was that it was owned by a rich older grand dame who held onto it with the pretension of being a shop owner and thus had somewhere important to go and do.  But in truth, we had no idea what was the real story.

My friends and I all vowed that if we saw the shop open, we would visit, no matter what errand we were busy with… just to be able to see inside.  But that was decades ago and I’ve moved and mostly lost touch with my college friends.

I drove by there a few years ago.  Polly & Jake’s was gone, replaced by an AT&T cellphone store.   After all, how could such a valuable location remain closed and apparently unused for so many decades?  It was bound to be converted to some other use at some point.  But somehow I always thought that it would still be there, timeless, frozen in the Great Depression.

I’m telling you this because I got an email from a stranger around that time which began,  “I’m reaching out to you to ask if you were friend’s with a woman named Trini at Stanford?”  Well, of course I had, but I hadn’t seen her since she up and dissappeared in the ’80s.  None of us knew what had happened to her.  So, of course I messaged back that I had known a Trini.  That’s when things got weird.

Via snailmail a few days later I get a package.  In it was a lovely cut crystal vase and a note from Trini “From Polly & Jakes”, but it was dated from 1935!  What was the joke?

I emailed the stranger who had sent it to me… and this is the reply, “I know this will sound strange, but Trinidad was my grandmother.  I found this in her effects with an instruction in her will that stipulated that I send this package to you.  Polly & Jake’s was her shop.  She insisted that it had to remain untouched until she died.  She was always very mysterious about it, always joking that it was her time portal.  I always thought that was an allegorical reference to the old junk in the shop.  But said in her will you would understand.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: