When I was recently reminiscing about the hot, humid summers spent in the hills of northern Arkansas, I also thought about those mornings we would pile into the pickup truck and "go to town."
If you've ever been to Mountain View, Arkansas, the county seat of Stone County, you know the center of the town is an old, yellowed stone courthouse. The buildings around the square are made of the same materials, and the place looks like it just jumped off the pages of some history book.
When I was much younger, we used to head for town at least once a week in search of those things which might make life on the farmstead down on the Tomahawk a little more enjoyable -- at least a bit more tolerable.
Depending on how early you arrived in town, you might see a few old fellows perched on the edge of the window sill outside of Raymond Smith's general store. If it was winter, they'd be sitting inside on cane-back chairs placed strategically around a large, wood-burning stove in the center of the room.
This is where Grandma Everett would buy "a few" things to take back to the farm. Then we'd walk down to the five and dime or over to the Ben Franklin store so she could pick up a few things for her sewing basket. If we were lucky (I thought), Grandpa would begin early on talking about whether we wanted to eat at the Rainbow Café or at the Ozark Café.
Either way, he'd always end up getting the open-faced roast beef sandwich and Grandma would finish her meal with a small bowl of vanilla ice cream.
After lunch we might take a quick walk up to Lancaster's Mercantile to see if the jeans were on sale. I remember looking longingly (but unsuccessfully) at the latest fishing lures, pocket knives, and leather handled hatchets while Grandma perused the rest of thee store.
You could find about anything in that place, and Grandpa would usually end up buying a box of fencing staples or galvanized nails or some such utilitarian item.
Finally, we'd climb back in the old Chevy pickup and make our way down to "the junction" where the newer businesses were spring up. That's where Grandma finished up her grocery shopping -- at the IGA store.
Then it a quick stop buy the Coop Store to pick up a bag of feed or seed or whatever was needed at the time, and then up Dodd Mountain and down the dirt and gravel roads to Hanover.
If we happened to be in town with my dad's parents, the Stewarts, our visit to Smith's store would be about it. They didn't look around too much. If everyone else wanted to walk the square, window-shopping and visiting with friends who might also be in town, Grandpa Oscar would wait patiently (for a half-hour or so) at Smith's. When we it came time to go back out to the farm in Luber, we always left with a slab of sliced fat-back and few big chunks of bologna wrapped in brown butcher paper.
That old court square, replete with its yellow stone buildings and Saturday night gatherings of musicians and music lovers, holds a special place in my heart. I could go on about it, but that would probably get a bit monotonous for you.
For me, it's just another look in the rear-view mirror of time.