Sunday, November 29, 2009
Don’t ever believe there is nothing left to discover. Granted, the Grand Canyon, the Continental Divide, the Mississippi River, and Bourbon Street have long since been discovered, but there’s plenty left. As a for instance, take Carroway’s General Store in Ida, Louisiana. Well worth discovering even though you will not be the first. Ida straddles US Highway 71 south of Texarkana, Arkansas, and north of Shreveport. The store looks to take up a city block in width.
The sign for Carroway’s says “since 1926.” From the first glance, you begin to suspect that the building has not experienced any significant external changes since then. You get the feeling you have just taken a gander at 1926. Big storefront windows invite observers to peek inside to get a clue as to what to expect. Without using the words, the ambiance says “welcome.”
Carroway’s has a big inviting front porch with plenty of seating, a good thing, since sitting on the front porch is one of the most popular forms of recreation in the South. Earlier in the day, a bluegrass band performed on the porch to a healthy sized crowd of admirers.
When you walk in the front door, you see a 1920s general store. The shelves, floors, and retail fixtures are original equipment. The store, living up to its middle name, general, offers a huge variety of merchandise. You can pick up grocery items from the old shelves. If you wander back to the deli section you can take home all sorts of meats and cheeses. And yes, they will make you a two-fisted sandwich.
Next to the retail section is a restaurant which runs the length of the store. The siren aroma of fine steaks beckons you. I was pained that my schedule prevented exploring and confirming these culinary promises.
Proprietors Phyllis and Grady Crady are continuing a tradition established by successive proprietors: Change with the times, but not much. That way, air conditioning, electronic cash registers, and pocket plastic become part of the routine in an accommodating and inviting 1920s environment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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But wait, there’s more!
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.