April 22, 2008

Bacon and eggs

On the way home a while back I had to stop for a bag of ice. Being pure white trash we have a refrigerator that we picked up for two hundred dollars that doesn’t have an ice maker, but has been working great for eight years. (Just ignore the crayons and dog hair that hangs out near the door at the bottom). I had passed the usual stores that I stop at on my commute, all owned by people from India for some strange reason. I remembered that there once was a store up a little side road I had stopped at for RC cola on my way to play Frisbee golf. That was twenty plus years ago, but I decided to give it a shot. I hadn’t been down this gravel road since that trip and wasn’t sure where I had seen the place so I took it easy and kept a sharp lookout. About half a mile down the road sitting in a left hand curve was this little cinder block building painted white with a rusty sign hanging on it that said live bait. There was a pond beside the building with a huge weeping willow, under which was a large grill chained to a concrete picnic table where several older gentlemen were sitting. I pulled up to the store, parking just a few feet from the table, and climbed out of the car. All of the guys at the table began a chorus of hello young fellow, what can we do for you and sporadic questions about what type of motor my car has in it.
The strange thing about this was that it wasn’t the typical convenience store conversation you encounter in any given parking lot. These guys looked relaxed, peaceful and felt genuine. They all looked like a mix of junior samples from hee-haw (if you can remember that) and my grandfather. The easy manner and kindly speech of these guys put me at ease at once. I told them I was looking for a bag of ice. The oldest looking one of the bunch pointed toward the store and reported that “Miss Adelle is in there and she can fix you up, come on back out and get you a samich when you’re done”. He pointed over to the grill where I noticed that there was a frying pan and baking sheet sitting on the grill. They were cooking bacon and eggs. Over to the side there were several pieces of bread toasting. I responded with “I might just do that.”
When I went into the store the first thing that hit me was the smell of onions and pinesol. There were several racks of goods lined around the walls, but the center of the place was empty except for a table. On the table were a deck of cards, a coffeepot, several dollars worth of change and a jar of pickles. The floor was bare concrete with a light dusting of sand and dirt. The doors were flung open with screen doors closed over the entrance. There was a counter to the left with a cash register. Next to the counter was a stand of vegetables in wooden baskets. Over the counter I could see the top of a graying head of hair pulled tightly back in a bun. As I walked over to the counter I noticed it was a little round lady sitting in a chair watching a small black and white television. I leaned over and asked her if she was Miss Adelle. She bolted up out of the chair; I had obviously interrupted her, and said, “Yes sir I am, what can I get for you?” I told her that I needed to get a bag of ice. She picked up a small paper cup tucked full of kleenex and spit into it, it was then that I noticed a can of snuff on the counter. She pointed to the other side of the store and told me that “The ice would be in the freezer, where else?” How could I argue with that? I looked around and saw a deep freezer sitting against the far wall. When I opened it there were several bags of ice with no labels at all on one side of the freezer & several of what looked to be hams on the other side, with small white containers spread throughout with things like ‘chicken livers’ written on them. I looked up and down the shelves against the walls as I stood there. There were things like potted meat, loaf bread, and beanie weenie covering the space. I carried the ice back to the counter and asked how much. She said two dollars. I replied with, “That is fifty cents more than most stores.” She cut her eyes up at me and said, “What’s your point? You’re here, it’ll cost you more than fifty cents in gas to go to another store.” I laughed and handed over the two dollars, which she promptly stuffed into her apron pocket. I thanked her and started back to the door, when I opened it she called out and I turned back to her, only to see the top of her head over the counter again. She said, “Tell buddy and them that if their gonna sit out there all evening they need to get back in here and clean up this mess.” To which I said a humble “Yes ma’am.”
I put the ice in the car and walked over to the table to relay Miss Adelle’s message. One of them, Buddy probably, hopped up and started back in the store muttering under his breath, I think I caught the phrase ‘old coot’ but can’t be sure. They had made me a ‘samich’ and had it on a plate waiting for me, with a couple of pickles. I sat down and had the most entertaining conversation I've had in quite a while. After the sun had began to set a group of kids appeared and started throwing rocks into the pond, they all had bare feet and walked a little way into the water to get the best skipping stones. When the lightening bugs started to show up they began chasing them down and smearing them on themselves so their shirts would glow. A few minutes later Miss Adelle came out with a bag of ice and said, “If you’re gonna sit there and wag your jaws your ice is gonna melt, here’s another one, you better get home or you’re gonna get in trouble.” It was then that I had noticed that I had been there for over two hours, eaten three samiches and had several cups of sweet tea. I now stop by the store a couple of times a week to catch up on what’s happened to who, and pick up any odds and ends we may need around the house. It costs more to stop there, but then I ain’t paying Miss Adelle for the goods I get as much as I am the fun I have…


Jules said...

Does this store happen to be located in the town of Mayberry?

Clay Perry said...

southern fulton county

HeartofGoldPlate said...

I missed these slices of the south so much clay. You have no idea. :D I'm so glad you're writing again.

Now I kinda want a samich.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Mayberry too.
how refreshing to ease into a slower pace in a small southern town.
glad you are back to blogging.

Anonymous said...

thats one of the best thing isnt it? bein able to enjoy somthin like that is very fortunate to us that live in the south. Nice conversation, good food, and the escape from the bullshit in the world today. Well written too. I felt like i was there. Time to cook me up some bacon and eggs.(and sweet tea too!)..

Anonymous said...

South Fulton, too far for me. I wish there was somewhere close by like that. I love bacon and egg sandwiches and old stores like that. Reminds me of home.