Monthly Archives: September 2011

People Watching Without Going to Walmart


Today was a great day to take a drive and escape the congestion of the city.  It was as if we lived in a time with no television, no air conditioning and a brand new convertible.  The mercury was expected to stay under 100 degrees and the long flat roads of Texas called out.  What better reason to drive than no reason at all.  Southeast was the direction and within an hour of driving the terrain had changed markedly.  There were beautiful trees, rolling hills and nary a car on the road.  That’s when the fun began.

To say it was like living in another time and place was the theme of the day.  First stop, local gas station on the main strip.  As the gas pump worked to fill our tank, we went into the store for a break and some refreshments.  While waiting for my cohort to choose a drink, I noticed the cute young blond in front of me and thinking to myself, “She is very well put together for a girl in a small podunk town like this,” until I noticed she was purchasing a 90 ounce Slurpee and two large bags of pork rinds.  I tried to snap a picture, but I was seconds behind as she climbed two feet up into her pickup truck where her redneck boyfriend awaited his snicky snacks.

Next stop, the town square.  Saturdays are good days to explore new places, find hidden gems, shop, eat, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of a small town.  We headed for the local farmer’s market which sets up on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse on the town square.  When we arrived, we found nothing.  No hustle, no bustle, not even a freakin’ watermelon.  After illegally crossing the street to avoid a toothless woman in a cowboy hat, we found a swanky espresso cafe / diner / wi-fi hot spot / antique shop on the corner.  Our first mistake was actually asking the young women running the place (one with her infant baby) where the farmer’s market was.  The second mistake was waiting for the answer.  The response from both women was “uh, oh, um . . . ooooh.”  After a few of those, we headed in the direction we thought was part of the answer only to find the local Walmart.  Not even close ladies!  Now we know where they shop because apparently the farmer’s market closes at noon.  The square was not entirely a bust.  We found the local Chamber of Commerce open.  The town square was as quiet as the day was long.  Oh, and at the espresso . . . . shop, you can get statuary for your garden or the run of the mill coral for your bathroom decor all in one place.

After a jaunt at the lake watching small-town teenagers in cutoff jean shorts and high top tennis shoes, we were relaxed and de-stressed, mainly because we no longer had to worry about whether the 80’s were dead.  Apparently the 80’s are alive and well in small towns.   But the fun of watching teenagers try to ditch their alcohol in front of a police officer had to end and we needed to head back to the big city.  Not all was lost because there were still road-side attractions yet to be touched and decided to stop at one of them on our return trip.  The sign read “Good Cookin” in black spray paint.  Sue’s Roost was the name of the place.  Too risky, we chickened out of the roost and headed to an old cotton gin off the highway instead.  It is a restaurant that is physically inside an old cotton gin.  We were greeted with a warm southern smile and could smell the home cooking.  Taking in the ambiance, we stopped to gawk at the murals on the walls.  The owners might as well hang rebel flags in the windows as curtains.  Probably never noticed by the sweet waitresses, but peering down on them was a painting of a white man in a suit sitting on bales of cotton.  He appeared to be watching his migrant and slave workers pick cotton, which in turn was taken to ships and sailed down the Mississippi past the white man’s big mansion.  History was no longer a subject in school, it was real and current.  What nailed it home was observing a group of cowboys coming out of a back room to leave the gin and staring at a black man in the dining room as they walked past him.  I’m not sure, but I think they had white pointy hats tucked in their back pockets next to their Skoal cans.  (Photo by E. Newton).

Life can be sheltered living in the big city and vice versa.  Young folk in small towns enjoy a night in the city, a chance to live in the fast lane for a few hours, and city folk enjoy the slow pace and quiet bliss of a small town to lower their blood pressure.  They are worlds apart however.  One day, we will move back in time again and despite the flaws in social skills, we will return to the espresso . . . . shop, if it still exists, and the cotton gin, if there are no burning crosses out front.  For now, go out and explore, but remember, to each his own.

In case your imagination doesn’t work and from the people who created “People of Walmart”, try “Your Kid’s Art Sucks.”

Carpe Diem!