Memories of Old Country Stores

Someone posted a photo of an old country store on Facebook that reminded me of two stores that you just don’t find many of anymore. They are the old wood frame buildings with a wooden screen door. I guess if I ran across one these days, I’d probably feel like I was in a movie.

The last one I remember was in the 1990’s. We had hiked a trail in the Big Thicket called The Woodlands Trail. On our way home we stopped at a little store in a small community by the name of Dallardsville, if I remember correctly. It felt like we were sharing our childhood with our three sons as we went up to the door and went inside to get sodas and snacks. I usually got a root beer after hiking the Thicket.

The other store was in a tiny town by the name of Fred. If Fred wasn’t on a hill you could probably see the back of the sign that says ‘Fred’ on the southbound side of the highway while at the same time, standing next to the sign that says ‘Fred’ on the northbound side. I loved going to the store in Fred to get the Sunday paper when my grandparents lived up that way back in the late 60’s and on into the mid-70’s.

This was a really cool old store. Of course, the floor was made of wide wooden planks. The owners had a cat that hung out inside the store, just like it was a normal thing. I guess it was. There were comfortable chairs up front, close to the counter so that customers who were of a mind to could sit and visit with the owners while the cat listened in. Several of my friends have heard me tell of the day I went there with my grandma and we sat in those chairs and shared a bag of pork rinds while she visited. I can’t hardly eat pork rinds now without thinking of that little store in Fred with the comfortable chairs, the wooden floors and the cat.

You know, next time I head up that way I think I’ll see if that store is still there and stop by for a visit. I’ll have to get some pork rinds while I’m there.

Luscious Legs

Sometimes it’s more fun to leave the misunderstanding in place, rather than try to fix it. This was one of those times. Well, once I got over the embarrassment.

My youngest son always had the most chunky thighs I’ve ever seen on a baby. My mother-in-law said he didn’t have legs, he had hams. She was right!

One beautiful fall day, when he was about six months old, I was playing with him on the living room floor. I remember it was a nice cool day with low humidity because my front door was open, with just a screen door between us and whatever, or whoever was outside.

Just as I said to my baby boy in a high-pitched sing-song voice (with a very Southern accent), “You’ve got such luscious legs!” I looked up and saw our slightly overweight, red-headed mailman on our porch. He was enjoying the nice day walking around in his mailman shorts. Except he was not walking when I looked at him because he was too stunned to move. He just stood there part-way up my steps with my mail in his hand as his face  turned redder and redder. Eventually, his face was redder than his hair. He looked like he didn’t know whether to drop the mail and run, or dutifully risk his marriage or something, and put the mail in my box. Of course he didn’t look inside the house, so he had no idea I wasn’t talking to him.

Well, that was the embarrassing part. The fun part came anytime I was out and saw him on the route. He knew my car. I knew he knew my car because he went from startled to tense when our paths crossed. To this day, I bet that man thinks I had the hots for his legs. It still makes me laugh.

Joshua’s First Experience With Subtraction

When our three sons were growing up we homeschooled them. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day that our middle son, who was six years old at the time, opened his math workbook and saw subtraction problems. He said, “What is this?” I said something like, “Oh, Joshua, I need to explain. That’s subtraction. It’s a bit different from what you’ve been doing. Instead of making more, you take some away.”

And before I could say anything else or show him how it works, he spoke up and said something like, “What? I don’t understand. What do these people want? Who wrote this? I don’t know what these people were thinking. What do they expect? I’m going to bed!” And he did.

I followed and talked with him for a bit and saw that he really needed to calm down about it before we tried again.

A couple of days later I got out the felt board and the felt fish and felt seashells that we used to illustrate math lessons. I called Joshua and his little brother to come see something. Without using the word “subtraction” or saying anything at all about the day Joshua went to bed, I  proceeded to illustrate subtraction. I showed them a group of five fish. While showing three fish swimming away from the others, I asked them, “If five fish are swimming along together and three swim away, how many are left?”

Joshua jumped up and said, “Where’s my math book! I want to do my math!” I was having fun with the felt, but he was already up and running to get his book.

I guess some of us just don’t always react with calmness to big changes that seem to be suddenly thrust upon us. Especially when we are young.

Things I Remember About Dolly Parton

I read an interview with Dolly Parton earlier today and found out she is 65 years old. I remember her on The Porter Wagoner Show. (I remember that show when it first came on TV. I was four years old.) She was only about 20 years old when she joined the show in 1966. I guess I was about 10 or 12 when The Porter Wagoner Show came to town and we went to see it. Minnie Pearl was there, and Dolly Parton, and Porter Wagoner, of course, in a suit that could blind someone, it was so flashy. My favorite song of hers has always been “Coat of Many Colors.”

Dolly Parton must have what they call “staying power,” I guess. Remember the movie,  Nine to Five, with Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda? We took our oldest son to that movie when he was almost three years old. Not that we thought he would like it especially, we just didn’t have a baby sitter and he was a good kid. He made it OK through the first hour and a half or so, then he started fidgeting. He was in and out of his seat and squirming around. He kept standing up and flipping the seat up and down. I kept whispering to him to be still and be quiet. I told him he was making it difficult for the people behind us to enjoy the movie. Finally, in an angry sounding whisper, I asked him, “Do you want me to take you out of here?” Of course, he said, “Yes!” and the people behind us cracked up. So, I guess that movie would probably be his earliest memory of Dolly Parton.

I don’t know what my other two sons’ earliest memories of Dolly Parton are, but I know they were very aware of a certain aspect of her in a way that little boys are when they were about six and seven years old. We were on vacation with my parents and these two little clowns came in our room to “show us something.” They squatted down with their knees up by their chests and pulled their t-shirts over their legs. Then they alternated their feet, up and down, up and down, which made their knees look like…uh,…well, you know. They said they were Dolly Parton.

Sixty-five years old. She said (this was in Parade Magazine) that if she “sees something sagging, dragging, or bagging, I’ll have it nipped and tucked.” She said people will tell her she looks so happy and she tells them it’s Botox. Well, I think a good sense of humor keeps us young on the inside, so I reckon she’s still a youngster.