Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ser Sta Gro

The country store where we found out where Mr. Pickett lives is a classic.

We've been known to pick rivers, or at least sections of rivers, based on the appeal of the country market nearest the put in. Some of them have good breakfasts. On the Elk trip we'll eat at the Midway between Murfreesboro and Shelbyville, but that's a real restaurant/diner and doesn't qualify as a ser sta gro. Here's what The Book says about them:

In the little office shack an old man with a seamed scarlet face said no, they had no telephone. I told him what I was up to. "Hell," he said. "We close down here in five minutes. I'll run you somewheres, my way home."

He let me out at a brightly lighted ser sta gro. It was getting dark. I hiked the filthy pup under my arm and thanked the old man, who laughed and said: "Hell!" and drove on home.

I went into the ser sta gro. They're institutional in that part of the world; some for variation label themselves "gro mkt sta," or "gro sta," or whatnot. Practically every countryman below a certain level of prosperity seems to yearn bitterly to own and run one, maybe because from the times of drouth and depression and crop failure he remembers that storekeepers had canned goods on the shelves to eat and that everybody else in the country owed them money. Appearing and disappearing like May flies, enduring in proportion to their individual owners' popularity and skill at whipping off the wolves of bankruptcy, they vary in size from the one pump station with a shelf or so of Days O' Work chewing tobacco and Van Camp's beans to a fairly elaborate approximation of a town grocery store, and serve as gathering places for the philosophical symposia of their neighborhoods.

Goodbye to a River, pp. 77-78

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