Circumstance brings me to a place I haven't been since 1957, to discover something again.
A Special Piece of Pie
Bang! Without warning the number three tire just exploded, on our trailer loaded with 44000 pounds of hand Sanitizer! It didn't get the one behind it. That sometimes happens. When it does you are stopped dead. We were lucky we still had three good tires on that side to allow us to limp a few miles. I dug out the book with all the truck stop information in it. The driver accessed his little console and announced that we were three miles south of Chadron Nebraska.
What is there? As I ran my finger across the column of services available. I searched my memory and found a long parade of High School Bands marching down the streets. I was a child then and it seemed like Chadron was a "big" town.
I remember the canteen and the college guys and gals strutting their stuff in front of all of us gawking kids. I had never seen anyone dance like that! Girls whirled into the air with petticoats flaring like carnations in the air above their male partners.
"Well what is here?" the driver asked.
"Sorry I zoned there for a minute. Book says there is tire service nearby."
We limped to a small truck stop where the attendant at the counter gave us the address of Nebraska Land Tire, a few blocks away.
As we drove into the older Business District, Building silhouettes popped like flashbulbs in my memory, and like pulled teeth there were holes where some of the older buildings had been replaced or had been left vacant lots.
The young man at the tire place showed us where to put the 18 wheel truck where the front most inside duel tire was even with the service door. It was hot inside, but the fan helped. We had a short conversation with two young Lakota men who were traveling through and had to replace two tires. Boredom set in while we waited. We had to wait our turn to get the tire replaced.
I asked the lady who seemed to be the boss of the place, if she could recommend a good place close by to get a fresh cup of coffee.
She gestured up the street, "Next block up the street, Heritage Grille."She gave off a slight hint of irritation at being interrupted from her paperwork.
We stepped onto the walk and started up the street. Linden trees in planters lined the walk. Some were blooming. I smelled a blossom up close. It was faint, gentle, and soothing to my soul as I stepped backward through time, and forward toward a hot cup of fresh coffee.
It took some doing getting in, but finally it became apparent that the entrance to the Heritage Grille was from an inside hall of a remodeled building with several businesses in it. I wish I had time to browse, but I let the scent of fresh coffee carry me over the highly polished wood floor to my destination.
I wondered if our truck wrinkled clothing was appropriate as I stepped through the door. The delicious smells removed all doubt that I had found a bit of the home that I left so long ago. The fleeting image of the Ghost Town just a few miles away, which is all that remains of my home town, crossed my mind leaving a trail of mixed emotions in its wake.
A middle aged woman, whose bright smile made her seem much younger, took our order for coffee and soon appeared again smiling luminously with a carafe of delicious brew. Smells like what was brewed at home when I was growing up. I wondered aloud to the driver, "Butternut?"
"I think so. It sure tastes like it."
I sipped the rich tasty brew and let the taste carry me to an early morning long past, with my Father sitting across the table and Mother making waffles.
When the server returned to see if we wanted anything to eat, I told her that I had not been in Chadron since 1957.
"That was the year I was born," she said.
I kept to myself that I was fifteen years old that year. She took our order and I could not shake the feeling that I just came home, and I was welcome. When I looked into her face it was warm and somehow familiar.
The point is; I didn't feel like a stranger when we talked; nothing was forced. It was as if we were picking up a conversation left dangling somewhere in the ancient past. Words and smiles came easily, natural, like they belonged jumping back and forth between us. I do not know what makes some people glow so brightly with enthusiasm for life that their facial lines disappear and you just see the beauty radiating from inside the person. Encounters like this are few and far between; rare and delicious like Strawberry Rhubarb pie served Hot, with vanilla Ice cream melting on the surface.
A note to our server: "You served much more than coffee, pie and ice cream. You heaped on a generous heap of welcome, and gave me a feeling of belonging. Your smile warmed a cold and lonely place deep inside my soul. No one seemed to notice our truck wrinkled clothes, or made us feel like we were strangers. Thank you for a rare moment of bliss. I hated so very much to leave, I'd have liked to have gotten to know you and find out more about where the light that shines around you, originates."
I closed the door behind us as we emerged onto the street. A block up the street, the tire replacement was finished. Minutes later we were gone, leaving a small cloud of dust and a little empty place in my heart as if I had left a tiny part of myself in the Heritage Grille. I savored the taste of Strawberry Rhubarb pie, served Hot with vanilla ice cream, dancing on my tongue
and I smiled.
© Copyright 2011 Dayo Moarzjasac (UN: drstatic at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.