Buried deep among the two and three numbered highways of Virginia, in a town spread out along a highway, a box-like brick-sided building stands off the main with little fanfare. An old double-door metal ice chest, enough parking for a dozen vehicles, and an odd curve in the road are the most noticeable amenities for this non-descript business. No family name, no chain store marquee grace the front of the building, just a simple lettered sign.
It is understandable why no one would expect tourists to shuffle in, root through the shelves, or pick out a nice cold wrapped pork piece from the wall-lined cooler- so dominated by hams, jowls, and rinds, that a visitor is likely to believe the locals do not eat fish, beef, or lamb. Nor it is possible to ignore the space issues in the intimate aisles; a yankee might darn well suffocate.
But if the aisles are narrow, the hospitality is broad- I have never met a more friendly grocery store manager, on a late summer afternoon in the middle of the week when no one else had bothered to stop at his store. In a place that some northerners might equate with Moonshiners, this man and his little crew acted like the appearance of a customer was an angelic godsend. I cannot ever recall getting personal shopping experience from a store manager who didn’t really seem to mind that I put back some items, asked about a dozen local brands, and left with four items instead of twelve.
Southern hospitality is not dead. It may have disappeared from the larger places, but off the main highways, there are still those who treat their neighbors with “Sir” and “Mam,” or even “Honey” or “Sugar.” And although I miss certain things about the north, especially particular ethnic foods in larger abundance, I have to admit, I love southern hospitality.