A few months ago, The Newark Post, a small paper in the city of Newark Delaware, ran a story about a store celebrating 30 years in business... The Days Of Knights. 30 Years, “holy crap” I thought “Am I that old....have I been coming here that long?”
I believe I was in 10th grade when the store opened, Gaming geekdom up until then was largely the domain of the Hobby stores like the Hobby house and Hobby Horse ( where i bought my first copy of D&D and redeemed the coupon for my dice). I had been gaming for a few years already and had meet John and Lee ( then the faces of the Days of knights) at a local toy store that also served as the city of Newark’s gaming shop “Punch and Judy’s” ( If you call a book rack and some miniatures a gaming shop). One day we learned that a entire store had opened in the Newark minimall that would be dedicated to games and off we went.
When I first walked through the doors they were still stocking the shelves...or what past as shelves, there was a glass case with miniatures and racks of modules and books...but much more then hard copy and lead... There were people, people who shared our interest in Fantasy and Science Fiction.
To this day I am still amazed by the talent of some of the patrons that I would come to call friends. So many were talented artists or doctoral students. The vast majority were just amazing fun people. The store acted as the sun for our local gaming universe and all things seemed to revolve around it. If you played, you would eventually go there.
I am still close friends with people I first meet there. I believe that is were I first meet Camo, who would introduce me into a circle of friends that 30 years latter are still some of my closest ( Dave Smith is my eldest‘s godfather and we still game over his house every Sunday). I grew to know the Managers, Lee and John and their wives Mica and Carol, (Though Lee would latter move on) and to this day still talk with them, I have watched their Children grow into amazing adults ( Yes.... I’ll even include Kyra in that). To put it simply, I have often felt like the store and its people were like a second family.
You just didnt go there to buy, you went there to play, to talk....conversations could last for hours and could have you in stitches the whole time... It was like the patrons were (and are) as much of the store as the merchandise.
It was at Dok’s (as we geek hipsters came to call it) that I meet my first Girlfriend, a great girl named Sue whom my total blundering of the relationship warrants a post of its own. Girls didnt game back then....it was a rarity and those that did seemed never seemed to lack suiters.
When I was young we used to go almost every weekend (if not more) to the “Club” (or in the early days...tables in the store itself) and spend the day in either established campaigns or pickup games of this or that. God how that place must have smelled to the non-gaming patron.... a mixture of pizza and body odder.