Thursday, April 7, 2011

Buckingham: General Store Edition

So I'm going to do this post in two parts as today I can't seem to find the pictures I want to show you all and so I'll have to take some more and post them on Monday.  This weekend I'm headed down south to the very very very small town of Buckingham.  Now when I say small town I mean there is a gas station, a church, and my grandfather's old store and that makes up the center of town...ok I think there is a courthouse somewhere I'm just not sure where.  Anyway, my mom's side of the family is from this teeny little town of Buckingham and I have been going down there my whole life.

As a child we would go down to Buckingham and spend all of our days at my grandfather's general store.  His store was one of the last remaining general stores that I know of (I took a class at Sewanee that explored the fall of the general store among other things...I'll save that for another post though) and we absolutely adored it.  In the morning we'd get up and have pop-tarts (that's what he always got us and we loved them since we were never allowed to eat them at home) and then call down to the store to say we were coming.  The funny thing is the store is about a minute walk from my grandfather's house but we were never allowed to go down until he came out waiting for us.  We would run down into his arms and thus our day at the store began.

Really didn't look too different than this!
We would do different things throughout the day at the store.  We had a tricycle and firetruck in the back that we would ride back and forth from one side to the other.  We would organize all of the rows of food and other stuff.  We would stand in the freezer until we were too cold and had to come out.  When we were older we learned how to work the register and loved doing that.  We'd do crafts, play games, pretty much anything you could think of, we'd do.  It was a special place, at the time we sometimes found it boring and not as much fun as going to the beach, but looking back, what a cool experience to have.  To have been a part of a true general store that are somewhat extinct now is very neat to me.  And when I say true general store, I mean true.  People would come in to the store at the same time every day to get their stuff and socialize - there was the coffee crowd in the morning, the lunch crowd in the afternoon, and then there were always just a few people sitting around the middle of the store chatting, sometimes for hours on end.  

My grandfather's general store was the center of the town, a true community gathering space.  One story that I can't resist writing about is that of the witches.  There were these two ladies that lived in the back woods of Buckingham that my grandfather would pick up and bring down to the store from time to time.  They were sisters and didn't have any kind of transportation to get out of there house.  One time my grandfather asked my sister and I to come with him to get them.  So we hopped in the truck and drove on over...they got in the car and my sister and I looked at each other and mouthed witches.  They were these ladies with about half their teeth, dark brown braids in their hair and just about every characteristic you would think a witch would have.  They would look back at us in the truck and smile and Tighe and I would squeeze each others hands, we jumped out of the truck and ran to my mom.  They also smelled funny.  They came into the store and did all of their shopping (usually people just picked up a few items) and then my grandfather took them back to their house.  Tighe and I were scared for days...

So that's a glimpse of Buckingham and my grandfather's old general store.  It closed down a few years back and is now my uncles candle factory.  It was such a unique and different spot and I am thankful to have been able to grow up experiencing true country people and community that gathered there (I'll have to save Ms. Lester for another day, a true Appalachian woman).  I'm excited to get out of the city for a few days and get back to a simpler way of life, no cell phone service, no internet, as my brother used to say, "just me and my imagination".  I urge all of you to do the same once in awhile.  Go back to a special spot that meant something to you growing up.  Think about what that spot meant to you at the time and how it influenced who you are today.  Take a break from the hustle and bustle and just relax in the country, I'm sure you won't regret it!

More to come on Monday, have a great weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment