Mason County News
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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, March 9, 2011 • Posted March 9, 2011

Don’t Blink, You’ll Miss It…

When the years begin to stack up and we still have our car keys, cars seem to aim for the side roads. Odds are great that the freeway ahead looks like it did "back there," but get off onto one of the map’s squiggly roads and no telling what you’ll see.

As a child, I remember an expression that confounded, and sometimes still does.

"There ain’t no other place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place."

The old adage boggles a bit, sort of like Algebra did a bunch. I wonder if the claim is ever literally true. This imponderable is frequently revisited, as is the thermos bottle. It keeps iced tea frosty cold for hours, and the very next day keeps soup tongue-burning hot. How does it know?...

* * * * *

On the radio the other day, the newsman crowed about 7-Eleven stores now numbering 40,000.

I thought about how one of them looks like the other 39,999. This is also true of other cookie-cutter corporate behemoths.

Off on the side roads, though, are scenes for which artists search. I saw one old, leaning building with this faded sign in big letters: "Groceries/Early Bird Coffee/Mercantile and Coffins."….

* * * * *

I enjoy visiting one-of-a-kind cafés. Not all communities have them, but those that do have treasures.

The Silver Spur Café in Gladewater is one. When I visited there around morning’s 5 o’clock hour, several locals kidded a waitress, never once getting the upper hand. Grousing about getting up early, she made it clear that starting a day with the likes of them wasn’t all that much fun. There was robust laughter in the ages-old place that features stuffed animals and birds by the dozens, and thousands of pennies crowded under plastic table tops.

The locals picked on her, and she picked back; the "hurrah-ing" was unending….

* * * * *

I’d heard it said that the place is open 24/7. "That’s exactly right; we’ve been open 24/7 always, I guess," the waitress confirmed.

"Don’t guess there’s a key to the place," I countered. "Oh, yes there is, hon," she corrected. "We shut her down from midnight Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday for deep cleaning." Though tempted, I decided against suggesting that the place actually is open 24/6.8333. About that time, she shoved an order back to the cook. "I said ‘over-easy’ and I meant ‘over-easy,’" she bellowed. "You could dribble these eggs, maybe even double-dribble ‘em."…

* * * * *

The cook grunted, but didn’t resist correction. Oh, he did know his way around the kitchen. The biscuits, big enough to crowd a saucer, could have flown.

Everything was "larrapin’ good." It was the kind of breakfast one doesn’t tell his wife or the heart doctor about. I think $4 bought it all, including coffee refills and multiple biscuits.

Slathering butter and jelly abounded, and laughter filled the room. There was sheer contentment at the Silver Spur. Upon leaving, I heard sounds of another tray of biscuits coming out of the oven. I thought of my late mom who treated us to marvelous biscuits every morning, and sometimes at other meals, too….

* * * * *

Another place I’ll visit again is the tiny Sweet Pickle Deli in Lampasas. It’s on a winding road, maybe a four-iron shot from the golf course.

Carolyn Henry and Kim Munn, co-owners/operators, are made-from-scratch kind of cooks. My friend Joe Rushing dines there frequently. Oh, you can’t set your clock on arrival of the man who presided over the opening of two community college districts back in the 60’s and 70’s. He’s no longer on tight schedules calling for "on the clock" attentiveness. "I guess I’m ‘on the calendar’ now," said Dr. Rushing, who, nearing age 90, still enrolls periodically for university classes at nearby Killeen.

He’s in hog heaven locking his lips over a pulled pork sandwich. I favor their world-class hamburgers. What sets ‘em both off are the homemade buns. Given a day’s warning, say for birthday parties, they offer homemade hot dog buns, too.

The latter is a favorite of "hot dog" golfers who’ve had bad rounds; they chow down to salvage at least one happy memory from the day….

* * * * *

Consider taking some side roads soon. Expect the unexpected.

A wise man once shared the importance of knowing when to run. "If you’re running to catch a train, don’t. There’ll be another one soon," he said. "If you’re running to get out of the way of a train, however, run like the devil."

Who could argue that?...

* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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