Monday, June 16, 2008

A Change of Pace

Learning of the death of Tim Russert has temporarily taken the wind out of my political sails. He knew how to get along with everyone without sacrificing honesty and integrity. Who else in the entire country would both Tom Brokaw and Rush Limbaugh consider friends? Who else could take any politician to task, no matter how far to the right, left, or middle he/she was? He will be sorely missed. In his honor, I offer a little piece of prose that I posted in a tiny forum I frequent, where we just get away from it all. It is called, in a very unoriginal manner, "Pleasantville." I wrote this piece one Sunday when no one had posted in the last 24 hours. It's a combination of where I live, where I used to live when I was younger, and Mayberry.

Sabbath Day in Pleasantville

June mornings are always nice in Pleasantville. We've just finished the rainy days, and the temperature is not yet reaching the nineties, so people tend to sit out in their yards while they drink their coffee or tea and read the paper, especially on Saturday mornings. Somehow, they are still there in the evening, but they have moved around. You'll see a lot of card tables out, but that's a misnomer because the old folks are playing dominoes and the kids are doing puzzles.

Sunday morning is another story. Nothing is open when the sun comes up, and you shouldn't expect anything to open too soon. Most Sundays, the Piggly-Wiggly will open up about 1:30, but it closes at 5:00, and doesn't see much business. The general feeling of the people here is that if you really needed something you wouldn't wait until the Sabbath to go buy it.

I used to pick up my grandmother for church on Sunday mornings. I would cross the tracks on the east side of town and she would be coming out of her clapboard house as I opened the passenger door for her. As we drove slowly through the streets, there were hardly any other cars, and those we saw had people in suits and ties driving them.

Our one radio station comes on about 6:30, and Albert plays "Sunday Morning Melodies" from the station until about 9:30, when the downtown men's Bible class sends a live feed to the studio, just in time for Albert to get over to the Presbyterian church where he hands out the bulletins. At 11:00 the Methodist church's sermon is broadcast, and there's usually dead air when it's over, until Albert can get back and run the turntables again.

It's funny how people would throw a fit if the Perry's department store or the Western Auto were to open on Sundays, but the Episcopalians get out at 11:30 and expect Cindy's Diner to be open and the food ready. At 12:00 Little Mexico opens, and some people drive the six miles to the interstate to eat at the truck stop diner. However, over half of Pleasantville just goes home after preaching.

They would have had a good breakfast, and dinner is usually not served until about 2:00.Walking through most neighborhoods you see people sitting on the front porch, reading, visiting, or just watching the birds and the neighbors. I'm amazed at how many of the men still have their ties on, though they have shed the sports coats. When dinner is over about 3:00, some people take a nap, and about half of them do it sitting up in their chairs.

The TV station sometimes comes on about 3:00, especially if there's a game of local interest, but everybody expects the game to be over by 6:00 in time for Disney. Supper is light, and in the summer, usually about 8:00. The drug store opens about 6:00 as well, and a lot of folks walk down there for a bottle of pop.By ten, it's rare to see any lights on. Occasionally, you will hear the drone of a swamp cooler, but most people have just left their windows open, though it's getting harder to sleep at night since they widened the interstate and you can hear the trucks, over five miles away.

Most of the world hates Mondays, but in Pleasantville, no one seems to mind. As they go to work, most of them walking, they look relaxed, refreshed, and well-fed. The Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian preachers go to Alice's and get coffee, and sometimes even the Church of Christ preacher drops by and sits with them. By the time the whistle sounds lunchtime at the compress, everything is back to normal.

Somehow the town survives, though the Ben Franklin and Goodyear stores are beginning to feel the loss of business as more and more of the young folks drive up to the Cost Mart on the interstate to save a few cents, and they are willing to forego the courtesy windshield cleaning and oil check at Jack's Full Service because gas is seven cents cheaper at Supersave next to the Cost Mart.

Jack will probably retire next year, and when he does, the station will probably close.But we'll worry about that when it happens. You can still get a Grapette for a dime at Jacks; they have those cans out on the interstate, and they are a quarter. We'll enjoy things while we can.

Happy Sabbath to all.

No comments: