Jasons (which sometimes advertised with an apostrophe before the “s” and sometimes didn’t) was originally called Jasons Cards and Gifts before changing a lot of its focus to toys in the 60s.
And it was as a toy store that Jasons became legend to lots of the kids that grew up here in Woodhaven. Every kid in Woodhaven knew exactly how many days it was until Christmas, owing to the sign behind the register which counted down throughout the year until the big day.
When we learned that Jasons was closing its doors for good, we stopped in to say farewell and maybe pick up a few bargains, but what I really wanted was that sign behind the register.
I was disappointed to find out that someone else had the same idea and beat me to it by ten minutes.
As a kid growing up in Woodhaven, most of our Halloween costumes were bought either here or at Lewis’ of Woodhaven. Leading up to Halloween, the latest and most popular costumes would hang from the ceiling.
It was at Jasons that my mom found the James Bond costume I desperately wanted. The plastic Sean Connery mask was way too big for this six-year old’s head, but wearing it made me feel six feet tall.
It’s hard to think about Jasons without thinking about their Christmas layaways. Does anyone even do that anymore?
My mom stopped in there every week and paid a little bit more for some G.I. Joe set I wanted for Christmas. I think it was the Astronaut G.I. Joe, with the space capsule and all that came with it.
Many of us associate Jasons with all the toys we got from there, but it was also a big place right around the start of the school year.
You knew summer was coming to an end when you found yourself in Jasons buying pencils and notebooks. And for some reason, every year I got a new protractor and pencil compass. I never understood what the protractor was for, but I did use it to make some amazing doodles.
And the pencil compass always ended up poking me in the leg. I wasn’t the best student, really.
Toys aside, Jasons was also the place to go, other than Hallmark, for greeting cards. As a kid, that was always “the other” side of the store. The boring side.
While my mom was browsing “Anniversary” or “Get Well Soon” cards, I was looking at the Rock'em Sock'em Robots or the Planet of the Apes Treehouse. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the boring side.
Except when I got older and the boring side became really useful. I worked next door at Phil’s Cheese and Cold Cuts and I got out late. We were celebrating my mom’s birthday that night and I’d just gotten paid.
Jasons was closing, but they let me run in and I got her some kind of crystal-looking dish (she loved it), some balloons and two cards, one was funny and one was a “Dear Beloved Mother” kind of thing.
Then when I got a girlfriend, who turned out to be my wife, it seemed like I was never out of Jasons. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when you get into a relationship you have to buy a lot of cards. Birthday. Valentine’s Day. All the holidays, really.
And don’t ever forget an anniversary card. Anniversary of the day we met. Anniversary of the day we got engaged. Anniversary of the day we got married. It never ends.
I don’t expect we’ll ever see anything quite like Jasons again.
We bought our toys and our costumes and our cards and gifts and our school supplies at Jasons. In some way, many of us became adults in Jasons; it was a big part of growing up and a big part of our Woodhaven culture.