Friday, July 18, 2008

Old Business, New Business

Old Business: Remember my encounter with the city fathers of Rural Retreat, VA (see July 1 entry)? Well, a reporter from the Bristol Herald Courier was with them when I was photographing the railroad depot. Last Sunday the paper ran a story about the railroad depot on the first page of Sunday's edition. The story told about the situation facing the owner of the depot. He owned the building, but not the land. Since the railroad would not sell him the land, he was going to move the depot.
As the story continued on page 3, there was a picture of yours truly taking a picture similar to the one that appeared on page one of the paper. It reads: "Charles Schrader, a tourist from Wycomb, PA, takes a photo of the station building. A For Sale sign hangs on one side." I would like to have been identified as "adventurer" or at least "traveler," but "tourist" was OK. At least they got my good side.

New Business: "How do I get to Shoppers Way? I'm looking for PetSmart," I asked of the salesperson at the mart at the first gas station off of I-81 in Christianburg. Without hesitating, she handed by a set of written directions. I was at a loss for words. Before I could say, "How did you do that?" she said, "Go one stoplight past the last destination on that sheet and turn left at the Olive Garden." I don't know nor do I care how that came to be, but that Citgo person wins my Best Directions Ever Award.

Floyd, VA, 20 miles south of Christianburg on Route 8, is home to one of the main venues on the Crooked Road. But before reaching the Floyd Country Store, we stopped at Farmers Supply General Hardware. There on a rack hung the Red Ryder Carbine BB gun, maximum velocity 350 fps. All I could think of were the words of warning that Ralphie's mother sounded: "You'll shoot your eye out" (from A Christmas Story). The slingshot next to to the Red Ryder might be a substitute, although no less dangerous.

Our next interim stop was County Sales, "the best-stocked traditional music store in the nation. It has no signs but should not be missed," according to the notation in A Guide to the Crooked Road. The warehouse is further described as "unpretentious" and "where you can easily spend an afternoon wandering the aisles." Since wandering is right up our alley, we spent an hour sorting through some of the more current selections. (After I learned that they had no yodeling CDs--yes, I asked for yodeling CDs.)

Now it was time for lunch, so we headed to Oddfellas Cantina, featuring an Appalachian Latino menu. Eating under a photo of Jerry Garcia, we enjoyed enchilladas, black beans, and basmati rice and a sausage and onion sandwich with french fries. As we were leaving, I took the photo of the restaurant's logo--a farmer, a hippie, and a businessman--from inside the restaurant because the reflection had obscured the logo when I tried to photograph it from the street.

The logo represents the variety of lifestyles that co-exist in this town. The citizenry seems to appreciate the wide range of interests represented in the lives of the residents--mountain traditions, remnants of the 1960's, and 21st century innovations.

We made it to the Floyd Country Store which is known for the Friday night Jamboree. Half the store is merchandise and cafe and half is folding chairs, dance floor, and stage. I'm guessing that about 400 people are seated around the stage and standing in the front of the store during the Jamboree. Dancing ranges from flat-footin'/clogging to waltzing to square dancing. The Jamboree begins at 6:30 with one hour of gospel music followed by three-plus hours of bluegrass music. Around dusk, jam sessions begin in the street outside the Country Store, and each attracts a crowd. The music often continues beyond midnight, according to some of the regulars with whom we talked.

But, if I could only play guitar, . . . .

"Let's welcome The Drovers, featuring . . . ."

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