Musings: Bad Dream
Bad Dream, Daydreaming
Iam not prone to outlandish dreams, but I recently had a real doozy of a dream that veered into the path of an on-coming nightmare. I can’t say for sure what brought it on, but I am suspicious of the salami and onion on rye with Dijon mustard sandwich I had for a bedtime snack.
Whatever the engine was, I’m reasonably sure the inspiration for it was a quote I read from Kin Hubbard (you know, that “Abe Martin” guy). Kin was quoting one of his Brown County characters, Tipton Bud, who said, “It is only a question o’ few years till… great chains o’ stores o’ one sort or another are managed by one head, an’ it is only a question o’ time till there’ll be an automatic chain store manager invented.”
Well, that certainly is a thought to ponder, but not before bed, and not after a salami sandwich. My thoughts that evening reminded me of an idea that arises in Brown County from time to time. That is the idea of coaxing one of those big box stores to put down roots outside of Nashville.
That quote got me to thinking about how even littler stores have been competing, not so much with pricing, but with convenience. You know you can’t go down to the grocery store for a gallon of milk without seeing a rack with socks and small appliances and patio furniture. And you can’t go to a drugstore without seeing racks of snacks, and beach balls, and other assorted “seasonal items.”
Seems like every kind of retail establishment is trying to stock whatever they think customers will want any time any time they want it. Of course, the big box stores just about took over everything: clothes, auto supplies, prescriptions, and groceries. Wal-E-World or Cost-Lots or Big Bullseye probably has it. If they don’t, now you can get it online and have it delivered from the “cloud.”
Back to my dream. I was all over the place. I was in a town council meeting, and a county council meeting. I was out where there was surveying going on and at a meeting of Nashville shop owners and artists. There were folks giving speeches everywhere. Groups were being formed. Tension permeated the village.
I was at a meeting where the local merchants were trying come up with ideas for out-competing the proposed Wal-E-World store. There was much discussion, some gnashing of teeth, and one or two cases of champingat-the-bit. In my dream, the chairman of the outfit started rapping a gavel made of beautiful walnut burl, hand turned on an antique treadle lathe by a local craftsperson. He announced that there was a motion on the floor and a feller stood up to launch his idea for putting a big roof or a dome of some kind over the whole village and re-naming it “Nash-Mart.”
That was when I woke up. I have been in a relationship with Brown County for more than 50 years and the idea of a Nash-Mart chills me to my marrow. I know in my heart that that can’t happen, because Brown County in general, and Nashville in specific, knows what it is and why and that’s why people love to come here.
I think Brown County has about everything a body could wish for. If you can’t get everything you need at the I.G.A., Bear Hardware, and Hoosier Buddy; and then what you want everywhere else in town, then you might want to seriously re-think your priorities.
But I would like to see an addition to our little county. The kind of store I’m daydreaming about is the kind that sells moon pies and pickled bologna. The kind that might have a couple of gas pumps outside and a step or two up to a covered porch. There might be one or two screen doors with push bars made from enameled steel that said, “Bunny Bread.” Flanking the entryway would be a pop machine stocked with five different flavors of Nehi soda and there would be a secondhand church pew to sit on. And somewhere, on an outside wall would hang a thermometer, probably advertising RC cola.
I can easily imagine myself sitting on that church pew on a warm summer afternoon with an ice-cold grape soda. I would watch the needle on the old RC thermometer creeping up with the heat of the day and listen to the grasshoppers, and katydids, and mourning doves.
A few of our stores remind me of those times, namely Nashville General Store and Bakery, Helmsburg General Store, and the Gatesville Country Store.
Even without my imagined country store trip back in time, Brown County is still a great place to slow down, sit on a bench with an ice cream cone, and remember.