I am on a roll. My guitar body is glued together, I am halfway through securing binding onto its sides. While I pull strips of tape from the industrial dispenser, nicking my knuckles on its angry serrated edge in the process, I am planning what I need to do next. Around 11:45am, my dad walks into the shop and says, "I want some breakfast. Want to go to Sarah's?" I check the time and while I have been working for several hours, my breakfast having been consumed at breakfast time, I say yes. I stop what I am working on and go.
I used to say no thanks when my dad asked me to accompany him to get breakfast at his favorite local general store because I didn't want to eat at that odd time between breakfast and lunch. I now understand he goes for so much more than just breakfast. Fox Creek Trading Post has been in operation for generations and one of the things I love about it is that, like Rugby itself, not much has changed. The shelves lining the walls that reach all the way to the ceiling are still piled with goods, clothing, and toys. I found a doll dressed as a nun, some dusty cigar boxes on a top shelf and a sign advertising shoe polish among the dishes, aprons and canned goods lining the dining area in the back of the store. Sarah Teitelbaum runs the old store and while she isn't originally from here, which is typically comparable to sporting a scarlet A in the eyes of locals, she has made herself a spot in the history of this tiny pocket of VA. It doesn't hurt that she's "good lookin'" (my dad says) and that she treats everyone who comes through her door as though they are the most important person in the county, but she has created a gathering place where folks can congregate and hear the scuttlebutt. I love that like generations before us, we still crave that sense of community and we are still fiercely protective of it.
|Cigar boxes on the shelves of Fox Creek Trading Post|
|Old and new.|
When my dad was young Vivian's husband Van Osborne ran the store. He said it was just the same as when I was growing up, the old men sitting around playing checkers and cards, discussing things like price you could get for tobacco and how high the price for chicken feed had risen. Last night when my dad and I sat by ourselves in his shop I asked him what he remembered about the store when he was young. He said, "When I was young you couldn't go anywhere else but the store because driving to town was reserved for special occasions. You could get whatever you needed there. People would even come in and ask for haircuts. Van would gesture to the barber chair he had sitting in the back room and he would cut their hair. Once a man named Brack Davis, probably some kin to us, walked in and pointed to his tooth. Didn't say anything, not that I heard anyway. Van gestured to the barber chair and Brack walked over and sat down. Van took a pair of pliers and yanked that tooth out! You never saw so much blood. Brack spit a few times into the coal bucket, said thank you to Van, settled up, and left. That was when that store was in the building where my old shop used to be. Another thing folks used to do was have shooting matches. They would get a circle of cardboard and draw lines facing out like spokes on a wheel and attach it to the wall with a nail. Everyone would write their names on the wheel and then someone would spin it so fast the names would blur. Then someone would shoot at the spinning wheel and whoever's name it hit got the pot. Uncle Cone told me that during wartime when there weren't any bullets to shoot and the guys still wanted to play that game, they would do it with a knife. There's a big ol' hole where the knife blade would hit the wall. It is still there in the wall of my old shop."
|Sarah needed a table for her coffee pot, |
my dad went home and made her one
When I asked Sarah about running that store she said, "I love that this store has stood here and served this community for so many generations. Jerry, the guy who drives the school bus came in recently and told me that he bought his first suit in this store with his grandfather in 1945. The other day I found a dusty old ledger on one of the top shelves and I found where he had bought that suit for $15. Now his grandkids come in here. How many generations is that? 6? I think that is just great." It is obvious she isn't in this for profit, though I'm sure she must make some given how many folks she serves every day. She puts thought and love into her cooking and provides excellent service. Those are two things that are greatly lacking around here now that our grandmother's have passed on. Now if you own a freezer and a deep fryer, you're in business. I think most everyone can see how hard she works to serve the community before she serves herself and thats a big reason why, in the time of high mobility, we prefer to drive a bit farther to see her and her helper Judy, her daughter Allyson as well as her parents who live down the street from the store. I hope that one day I will be able to bring my kids in there and present them with some money while telling them what I could buy with the dollar my dad used to give me. It was always worth so much more than the monetary value.
|The general loafers.|