Sunday Scribblings-Town and Country

The Big-7 was my favorite thing in the little town of Leitchfield, Kentucky. Dimly lit and cool, even on the hottest of summer days, this old fashioned “department store” was the place to go in town if you needed housedresses, overalls, or straw hats. Deep and cavernous, with sloping wooden floors that announced your progress through the store with a symphony of creaks and moans, the Big-7 was the spot to be if you were “in town” on Saturday mornings. The clerks greeted every customer with a cheery “How y’all doin’ today?” and sent you on your way with “Y’all come back now, y’hear!” I always insisted my mother buy something, anything, because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by leaving the store empty handed. (Actually a pretty smart sales strategy, if you think about it!)

The Big-7 was only one of many things that were different about the country. We visited my mother’s hometown every summer, and the plethora of relatives scattered throughout the countryside was a never ending source of delight for me, an only child growing up in post -WWII suburbia. There were cousins of all ages to play with, and big family dinners every night, the table groaning with fried chicken, homegrown beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, and fresh baked pies heaped with ice cream we took turns cranking out of the wooden ice cream maker.

I loved our visits to the country – with the exception of trips to Aunt Dessie’s house, which lay at the end of a winding one lane road skirting a deep wooded gorge. I was always petrified a car would be coming the other direction and force my dad’s big Buick off the road into that bottomless pit. Once we got there, things weren’t so great either. Aunt Dessie’s house was right across the street from a huge chicken farm, and the odor emanating from that place on a humid summer day was indescribable. Didn’t bother Aunt Dessie, because she’d lost her olfactory sense many years before – in self defense no doubt.

Yep, country life was great – at least for those two or three weeks every summer. By the end of that time, though, I was ready to trade barefooted treks through the hills for concrete sidewalks and my new three speed stingray bike. And after a couple of trips through the aisles of the Big -7, I had pretty much exhausted my interest in Osh-Kosh coveralls and was ready to roam the new indoor shopping mall at home.

There is definitely a romantic sort of appeal to life in the country, and it calls to me every now and then, especially with the pace of life here in the suburbs growing faster and more complex every year. As they say, the grass is always greener…and I’m pretty sure I’d find myself leaving the Big-7 before too long and going in search of a little more variety and excitement – not without buying something first, of course.

for more town and country tales, head on over here

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18 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings-Town and Country

  1. See, this is EXACTLY the way I always imagined country life when I was younger…when I wasn’t thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder! 🙂

    You are such an evocative, sensual writer–loved the details.

  2. This is a wonderful description. My hometown wasn’t quite like this, but it was small and had the same feeling. Whenever I go home I have this mental and physical letdown, like I’m finally able to relax. But, as you said, after a few days, I’m ready to head home to the familiar pace of the life I have now.

    Thanks for sharing your slice of the country life. 🙂

  3. “Deep and cavernous, with sloping wooden floors that announced your progress through the store with a symphony of creaks and moans,”

    What perfect words to bring that old store to life. I had one just like it in my childhood, and could viualize it while I was reading this post. Lovely!

  4. I loved your description of the store – it reminds me a bit of one of my favourite bookshops here in Edinburgh, the sloping floors that creak…

  5. Your description is perfect. I never liked being out in the country very much, and you captured how it was for me, too, when we went to visit Mom’s country cousins.

    I like nature, but prefer to find it with people all around it. Probably why suburbia suits me so well.

  6. There used to be an old hardware store in my town that fit the description of the Big-7 perfectly. And I always felt like I had to buy something to pay for the pleasure of the browse. It burned to the ground last year, but is, thankfully being rebuilt. Maybe they can put in a few creaks.

    This slice of memory is wonderful. I could almost smell the fried chicken. (and the chicken farm too).

  7. I love how your aunt lost her ability to smell! I felt like I walked down those country aisles and sat in the back seat of the buick moving down the dusty raods. Very evocative!

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