Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Heart of “Funky” Floyd…

sits the Floyd (VA) Country Store.

“The Floyd Country Store served the community through most of the twentieth century. Although its origins are lost in obscurity, it is known that in June 1910 a business called Farmer’s Supply opened its doors in the building.

“Under a series of owners, the store continued to operate as a hardware store and a general store until the late 1990’s when changes in the way people shopped made it hard for local businesses to keep going. Nevertheless, the store remained open for one evening a week, for the now famous Friday Night Jamboree” (

“Purchased and renovated in 2005 by Woody and Jackie Crenshaw, the store is one of the most popular stops on The Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, as evidenced by attendance at the Friday Night Jamboree, a musical celebration that began in the mid 1980’s and evolved from shopkeepers’ after-hours fiddling sessions that neighbors dropped by to hear…. Since the Crenshaws took over country store, it’s been used for a variety of community gatherings, including a children’s concert, a benefit for a young man with cancer, a seed saving group, a workshop on beekeeping, clogging dance classes, and rallies for both major political parties” (Colleen Redman at

You may, like us, have wandered in to hear the Friday Night Jamboree or the Sunday afternoon Mountain Jam. But you will soon discover that the Country Store’s shelves are full of interesting objects including one of the largest selections of “old time” CD’s. (“Old-time music is a genre of North American folk music, with roots in the folk music of many countries, including England, Scotland, Ireland and countries in Africa….The genre…encompasses ballads and other types of folk songs. It is played on acoustic instruments, generally centering on a combination of fiddle and plucked string instruments…” []).

You can still purchase such old-fashioned items like straw brooms, bib overalls, apple butter, or locally-made dish cloths.

But there are also extensive kitchenware

and clothing sections and displays of penny candy

and old fashioned chewing gum. Now I have chewed Teaberry, Beeman’s, Clove, and Black Jack. But Choward’s (or C Howard’s)
Scented Gum was new to me and is described at as “A New York tradition since 1934. Unique breath refreshment after eating, drinking or smoking. Nostalgic violet scent and flavor.”

There are racks of books, many of which promote living a sustainable
lifestyle. You can learn how to raise the backyard cow and raising goats or pigs, how to build a solar food dehydrator, how to become a backyard lumberjack, or how to plant an edible landscape.

And for the young, there are racks of cuddly stuffed toys.

But music is the heart and soul of the Country Store, and “at the store we believe in supporting music education in the area. The store currently hosts structured education programs including music classes for babies and toddlers, and we have opened our space for teachers in the area to provide private lessons to the public. Weekly donations are made by our Sunday Mountain Jam group at the store to youth education programs in the area” (

But we’re not done yet. The Country Store also functions as an ice cream parlor and lunch counter with five booths and two tables. The standard menu is basic with sandwiches like a BLT, ham and cheese, turkey and swiss, chicken salad, and that Southern favorite—pimento cheese—a mix of grated sharp cheddar, mayo, and pimentos.

“Pimento cheese is so ingrained in the lives of many Southerners that we don't realize our passion for the stuff doesn't exist outside the region. Call me provincial, but I was shocked (shocked!) when I learned that everyday people from Boston to San Diego don't slap pimento cheese on bread for a quick lunch, or slather it across their burgers for a decadent treat…. The beloved pimento-cheese sandwich is typically served on cheap white bread. It's a quick fix for children busy with play on a summer's day. And it's a staple at after-church potlucks” (Wright Bryan at

And the lunch counter offers daily specials. The day of our visit, these included vegetarian black bean soup, a BBQ sandwich, an egg salad sandwich, and a spring market salad with mixed organic greens, local asparagus, snap peas, green onions, cucumbers, and green peppers.

Both Chuck and I ordered the black bean soup ($3.95), and after one mouthful, we looked at each other and exclaimed, “This is really good.” It was full of whole black beans, carrots, tomatoes and onions and was flavored with just a hint of cumin. It may have needed just a bit more salt, but that shortcoming was easy to correct.

The soup came with a slice of locally made multi-grain bread, but I also accompanied my soup with a wedge of skillet cornbread ($1.25). If the soup was “really good,” the cornbread was really, really good. This was the richest and most buttery cornbread I have eaten. When you picked up the wedge to take a bite, your fingers came away with a buttery sheen. I asked if the butter was poured over the bread after exiting the oven and was told, no, they just use butter in the basic recipe. Chuck, no real cornbread lover, even agreed after a taste that this was “really really good.”

Chuck accompanied his soup with an egg salad sandwich. For years, you have read my disparaging comments about “white fluffy bread.” But one thing—among others—upon which Chuck and I agree is that
egg salad is best when served on very fresh white fluffy bread. Even though this bread was more substantial than your Wonder Bread or Sunbeam, it still met our criteria for the ultimate egg salad sandwich. And the egg salad was a comforting mix of eggs, pickles, and pimentos bound together by a rich mayo.

After an hour or so of listening to some Mountain jamming, we were ready for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. So I sent Chuck forth to the ice cream station with the words “surprise me.” He returned with a
giant banana split with chocolate, vanilla, and blackberry ice creams with strawberry and chocolate toppings. And a mountain of whipped cream. Is there anything more comforting than sharing a banana split with your Favorite Traveling Companion while sitting at an oil cloth covered table?

“For centuries, country stores have been the center of rural culture. The Crenshaws’ intention has been to honor that tradition and build on it. ‘It’s a general store for this age and for this diverse community,’ Crenshaw says.

“On the benches outside the store, Jamboree goers sit and watch the festival-like street scene. An inviting sign above them reads ‘Loitering Allowed.’ Inside, another message hanging near the front door announces, ‘Ya’ll come back.’

“They generally do” (Colleen Redman at

And so will we for another 5.0 Addie afternoon.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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