Getting my first VCR was Very Cool, Really

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I remember getting my first VCR as clearly as I do my first bicycle … and my memory of the latter has the unfair advantage of having been captured on 18-mm film by my father. (I recently rescued the film, camera, projector and tri-pod projection screen from my Dad’s house before his move into assisted living. Someday my kids will get an old-school viewing.)

As for that first VCR, it arrived in the early 1980s and was a transformative acquisition: For the first time, I was able to watch full-length, unedited, uncensored Hollywood movies at home without commercials. Taken for granted in this age of on-demand and Neflix, it was an amazing advancement at the time.

So it was with wistfulness the other day that I drove through downtown Framingham, Mass., and glanced at an empty storefront that once held one of the big video rental chains (I’ve forgotten which one, it was that long ago). And that wistfulness was amplified this morning when I read on that Cambridge’s last remaining video store, Hollywood Express, is closing its doors.

General Manager Joe McClure said the store is shutting down because business has suffered in the past few years.

“There weren’t enough customers,” he said. “Loyal customers, just not enough of them.”

Frankly, I’m surprised there were any, despite the fact that it was less than 10 years ago that I patronized Blockbuster on a regular basis.

Today I couldn’t even tell you the location of my nearest video store.

I just know it’s not in downtown Framingham or Cambridge.

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