An ode to Poor Richards and the Leaf and Bean

Pull Up the Roots

Birdie Hall  |   Monday Jun. 1st, 2015

Poor Richards and the Leaf and Bean were two Bozeman institutions that made this once sleepy town unique to the many others in the state. Now that both of them are gone (for good), it’s difficult to imagine what will become of other downtown staples. Apparently, watching places in the town you grow up in shut down is just part of growing up, according to the wiser adults I’ve grown to know here. The only problem is that now there is nowhere downtown to buy cigarettes and music magazines, or Girl Scout cookie cupcakes. At least now we have a hip hotel and yet another taco restaurant.

Poor Richards, the shop I was most connected to in town, housed many great memories. It was the store owned by a well-mannered southerner named Harvey who spent his free time volunteering with elementary school kids. His two golden retrievers, Sugar and Dixie often sat in the store, greeting customers with either apathetic grins or big sloppy kisses. And lest we forget the brilliant Tom Day, who taught me and many others about music and literature. Johnson, the tall redheaded dude was friend to many in town. These employees were some of the kindest and well-natured people I’ve ever met, providing the town with tobacco and good conversation. I suppose I shouldn’t be speaking of my healthy friends like they’re dead. That just adds insult to injury.  

I don’t know if any of you have ever sat down with a good copy of the Sunday Times with a pack of cigarettes and a cup of damn fine black coffee, but that is a pleasure that no one should be denied. Sure, the Country Bookshelf will carry the New York Times (as it should), but quite honestly the novelty of buying a ten dollar newspaper is gone. I don’t mind some slight disorder, but I’m pretty miffed about my favorite places shutting down for the sake of another trendy restaurant opening up among a sea of hip clothing stores and breweries.

Bozeman is changing very, very fast. I have to be completely honest and say that I don’t like most of it. However, it’s not just Bozeman changing, society changes too. It’s interesting to wonder whether if the closing of a print –shop is symbolic of the “evolving” culture itself. Magazines are a dying breed, and will most likely be obsolete within the decade.  I guess I just wasn’t made for a generation of smartphones and (you guessed it) a multitude of taco vendors.

I suppose there should be at least a sliver of optimism in here. I, and I’m sure many other Bozemanites, are thankful for the great times shared with other good people here downtown. This town is home to some of the most phenomenal people imaginable. I will never forget the good times shared with them, as well as the mythos of the places where we congregated. We should appreciate the warm, fuzzy joys in life while they are here. However, I will say that if anything happens to Vargo’s, there will be hell to pay. Godspeed, Poor Richards and the Leaf and Bean, we will miss you dearly.   

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