By Otis Griffin
When is the last time you pulled up an empty, patched up, broken down, wobbly, nail keg with one of your growing up friends?
Slowly sat down and relived the directions of how you actually got around while hoping to possibly enter maturity.
A good place to begin would be the center of the universe such as Mr. Ben’s country store in downtown Rosemark. This afforded you, as a youngster, the opportunity to be taught most everything you would ever need to know, or at least you felt that way at a tender age.
Go on, snicker, cock yo’ head sideards, kick the cinder box, slyly blush and admit it. Yep, just hunker down as close as possible to the pot bellied furnace located near the midmost of the emporium.
Friends, would you like to ease over to the shiny, slick topped, walnut colored counter and remind Mr. Ben as you dug back in time, to cut you off some rag baloney as if it were yesterday. Recollect how ‘Rabbit’ and Tommy attentively would gaze as the community humanitarian positioned the slices carefully on the white scales wrapped in the crinkly dull wax paper and throw in just the perfect amount of white crackers.
If you gonna’ splurge, as we say in the wonderful South, maybe Big Paul would suggest a slice of some yella’ hoop cheese that had been curing out in the round, wooden container.
We never could ‘figger’ out how Mr. Ben could slowly raise that gray colored meat clever and gently sunder (three dollar word for cut) the exact request. Always.
If for some reason yo’ cheese cut had some dull green spots maybe you didn’t desire, that wasn’t a problem. Simply finger nail ’em off, roll into little balls and sling toward the roaring heater. If you got lucky, the morsel would stick to the hot metal causing a slight sizzle, sending smoke slowly drifting toward the high ceiling. The cooking cheese smell probably would remind Grandma the many times she walked with her daughter’s restless newborn saddled on her diaper covered shoulder. Only Southern grandmas can accomplish the slow rubbing, cooing effect while rhythmically and lovingly trying to fight off the colic.
If the cheese ball fell off and landed in amongst the cinder dust that was no problem. Just kick and slyly cover it up. I told ’em boys not to misbehave, but they wouldn’t listen. Mr. Ben never did say anything, but I’m sure he knew what was going on.
Neighbor, Mr. Ben always weighed out our feast on the huge flat topped scales because I think he knew we enjoyed watching the dim yellow colored light flash on. This caused the numbers to rapidly roll back and forth several times before coming to rest either on the short lines or the wide all the way across line. Never failed. Can you recollect how the meter would spin a thousand times, but slowly grind to a halt. Always. The reading was the exact amount just like Mr. Ben said. Always. He sho’ was smart.
The faded red drink box held every invented brand. While Mr. Ben rang us up on the cash register, we’d fetch us a cold, water beaded drink and slowly ease the cap off to prevent spewing. We were extra careful not to lose the flavor. Veterans learned to grip the NEHI or Nu-Grape tightly or it’d slip and hit the floor harder than an ex mother-in-law’s heart. Back ’en the heavy glass got slickery and snatching that bottle burr-headed cap would cut yo’ fingers like a gutting knife.
With a feast as such, all you had to do was locate a good eating location. Pull up a future slop bucket; settle comfortably on Nutrena feed sack, scoot around on a flavored salt block and devour yo’ spread with the gusto of a hungry hound dog. All the while you realized we know where we are but the rest of the world is lost.
American By Birth and A Southern Redneck by the Grace of God….GLORY!
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