Just down the street from the feeding frenzy of Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, that unsightly discount troika where Dodge Rams lock horns over parking spots, there lies tranquility. If you miss the sunlit, unfuddled serenity of a Father Knows Best main street, you'll find it in downtown Kirkwood. Overshoot north and you'll hit Manchester with its cluster of auto dealers, a tacky intersection best for test-drivers. But go no farther than downtown Kirkwood and you'll find storefront awnings, actual trees to leave their shadows on them, mom-and-pop businesses wherein you can really find Mom and Pop, and families window-shopping, their eyes looking to Christmas. But Kirkwood's true path to success is that ongoing territory for moving feet -- the classic American sidewalk. Often sporadic or truncated, sidewalks can be a walking contradiction. Downtown Kirkwood is a throwback to when you could take for granted that there would be one to keep you off the street. Granted, some chain stores have moved in with all the grace of imposing relatives, but nothing upsets that lovely stretch of Lindbergh -- that epiphany of landscape where Americana is spiced with the smell of Imo's pizza, where the rock & roll seeping from Now Hear This jams with the hyperspeed tick-tock of crickets. The Target that used to be across the street is now south of Big Bend, by the way. It can't compete with downtown Kirkwood, at least aesthetically. Target having a sidewalk sale is like Weight Watchers conducting a cakewalk.
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