My mother was a busy woman. She worked full-time and raised three kids, mostly on her own. When I was young, I don't remember her spending much idle time with me. She wasn't the kind of mom who played games or read to me. She wasn't one to sit back and watch me put on plays. I can see that differently now when I take in the greater context of her life or maybe I'm just more inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt these days. But, my mother loved a good malt and there was only one place in Kansas City to get one - Shalinsky's Drug in Argentine. I can still remember the tingling bell that announced our entrance into the drugstore and the displays of Russell Stover's candies towards the front and the rows of greeting cards. My mom would take me by the hand and lead me to the soda fountain. This would have been in the 1970's but Shalinsky's still had that old time soda fountain feel with the sea foam green malt mixer and the metal mixing containers. She'd put her purse on the counter and we'd hop up on the old vinyl stools and she'd order us a chocolate malt to share. The person working behind the counter would bring us the metal malt cup and pour it into our soda glasses and we'd sit there together sipping our malts. Sometimes, she'd ask me about school or friends but, more often than not, we'd sit there in silence, glancing at each other every now and then to smile.
Shalinsky's is gone and, strange as it may seem, my mother is buried across the street from where it once stood. I wish I could go back and take my kids with me for one more malt. I'd tell them I've never had a malt as good as the ones I had there. That's the truth.