I found myself standing in "Bucks Hardware" in downtown Jellico on Wednesday. Having lived just up the road in Williamsburg for the majority of my life, I had never been inside the quaint and rustic store. My friend Lori who was visiting from out of town insisted we take the time to go inside so while out "sightseeing" that's exactly what we did.
Upon entering the store two older gentleman greeted us. It felt good to have strangers engage in conversation, as folks often aren't as friendly out in Owensboro. For a brief moment I felt as if I was in a time warp, there were bits of this and that everywhere.
The floor made that rich sound that I love when you step across it, that's why wooden floors are my favorite. I could tell the wood in this store had seen a lot of traffic in it's time too. There were pictures of Elvis on the walls and homemade trinkets on the countertop, newspaper clippings celebrating local achievements were on full display, this was the kind of stuff that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Lori browsed the shelves and studied various items before deciding on a tin pail that would serve as the perfect ash tray for her patio. I was thrilled to stand at the counter and "shoot the breeze" with folks who sounded like me. Exchanging funny sayings I got tickled when Buck insisted Lori be introduced to a good "cat head." Puzzled she glanced over at me seeking reassurance, I laughed as I explained "cat head" biscuits are best served hot with chocolate gravy poured across them.
After Lori purchased her tin pail, just as we started to exit the store, I watched as Buck came from behind the counter to open the door for us, directing us next door to visit a neighboring shop owned by his cousin Leah. He was thrilled to walk with us down main street, thanking us for coming in and telling us to be safe when traveling home.
I paused and stared at him as he smiled and waved at cars passing by, eager to show a new face in town his side of the block. I wish the world could have more of that. Hospitality. Grace. Kindness. Joy.
I'm grateful I had the opportunity to meet such a gracious and kind man, and I vow to keep my word and serve my dear friend some "cat head" biscuits soon in his honor.
Visits like that one, with Buck of "Buck's Hardware" make me even more proud of my small town roots. Without folks like him, folks like us, can you imagine how boring life would be?
I was scolded as a child for talking to strangers, but as an adult i'm happy to share a conversation with someone new as often as I can.
Erinn Williams is originally from Williamsburg, and now resides in Owensboro, Ky. The daughter of a teacher and a preacher, she hopes to make a difference through her words. She serves as a teacher's assistant in Daviess County, and writes for two newspapers in Western Kentucky. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.