Garishly pastel and poised on the corner of a rough intersection, awkwardly offering products to expectant mothers while the strip club next door bumped and gyrated, babyland was an infamous San Jose icon while I grew up, a contradictory glimpse of something longing to be wholesome on an intersection dominated by neon monoliths, bars, and adult entertainment. I spent my share of nights waiting for a bus at that intersection, wondering how that place came to be while the eternally cheerful baby clowns on the windows stared out at me, oblivious to the world around them.
Maybe Babyland served as a reminder to the patrons nearby that their families were at home, waiting. Maybe it was a symbol of our responsibility to the youth of the neighborhood, a moral lighthouse in a sea of blurred judgment. Or maybe I was looking too deeply and it was simply a small, family owned business trying to offer what they felt San Jose lacked, a friendly place to shop for expectant mothers, a business trying to survive in a world of warehouses and strip malls.
What ever it was or was meant to be, they closed their doors last month after 21 years on that corner. A family business gone. Another icon lost.