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Small town surprisesPosted Saturday, July 2, 2011, at 5:24 AM
You truly never know what you'll find in small towns. On a recent trip to Texas, a friend and I were driving through Arkansas--not far from Pat's Pack Rat Alley, a quaint flea market that I've written about before: Pollard, population, 240. Our stomachs were empty.
"Let's stop for breakfast somewhere," someone suggested.
"Okay," responded someone else. "Do you think Pollard could have a restaurant?"
We looked around at the deserted town. It was about 7 a.m., and nothing was moving. It looked like so many of the little shabby towns we see in our travels, all coping with declining population, all wishing for a rebirth.
Then, low and behold, just before we crossed the railroad tracks, there was a cute little white frame building with a sign announcing, "Hunter's Cafe." Wow! You gotta be kidding!
You never know about these things--Sometimes the sign is 50 years old and the eating establishment has been gone for 25, so we were dubious, to say the least. I felt a little foolish, walking up the steps, thinking the place would be abandoned. It was too good to be true--finding someplace besides Mickey D's for breakfast!
I was never one for tact or shyness, so when we walked in the door, and actually saw PEOPLE, I blurted out, "Is this a restaurant? Do you really have food??"
"I just knew you were going to get us tossed out on our ears," my friend later said. We got the usual stares you get when no one knows you.
"Yeah, I can fix you some food," said the waitress.
Four men sat at a table, drinking coffee, while a kid about eleven slept, face down, in one of the three booths. The middle booth looked as if an unruly pit bull had been the last customer in it. The burgundy vinyl was torn to pieces.
My friend and I sat at a table. I ordered a veggie omelet, and he ordered two fried eggs, over easy.
In the meantime, we learned that the sleeping boy was named "Hunter" and was the waitress/owner's grandson. He didn't wake up the entire time we were there.
As for the four men, one of them--a farmer--was from Piggott and was quite sociable. He and my friend struck up a conversation. Obviously, neither of them had ever met a stranger in his life. Would you believe that they talked until they discovered several people they knew in common? We spent a pleasant hour there, eating breakfast and chatting with the friendly Piggott farmer.
It just goes to show what you can find if you get off the interstate and travel the backroads. There are some nice people out there--and a lot of interesting places to see in this big, wonderful country we call America!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at email@example.com.