Almost twenty years ago, we had a project in a small town in Central Texas. The best way to describe the place is the middle of nowhere. There was a store and a church, which didn't sit next to each other. I think I counted a half dozen homes within sight and some others in the distance.
I liked the scenery: rolling hills, big open skies and the rich, fertile ground found in that part of Texas. The cows were fat and looked like they'd been in a feed lot.
We were there in the late Spring, which can bring some hefty thunderstorms along the dry line, or weak frontal boundaries. We had a few, including tornadoes and large hail. They'd grow into monsters as the sun heated the unstable air. Even though I'd been around thunderstorms my entire life, these were different. Only someone that's lived on the plains that stretch from Texas to the Canadian border can understand the significance of the storms. They're awe inspiring and can bring moments of sheer terror when they arrive.
The most notable thing about the site was the general store a few hundred feet from where we were working. It looked like many of the old stores I was familiar with, but this one was different: it had damn near everything someone would need.
There were tools, hardware, food, soft drinks, beer, fishing gear, pipe and fittings, sundries.....just about everything. The selection made Walmart look like a specialty shop.
The old man that ran the store was shrewd, to say the least. He knew his customers, which were scattered about in the surrounding area and kept the things anyone that lived in a rural area required. Only if you've lived in the middle of nowhere can you appreciate some of the things he had, such as PVC pipe, fittings, glue and primer.
Since there was nowhere to eat, and we were there every day, the store owner let us keep our lunch meat, and anything else we wanted, in one of his coolers. We'd bring the unfinished packs back in and pay him for more when it was needed.
We finished the job, left and I never thought much about it, until a few weeks ago. Out of curiosity, I looked on Google Earth and found a photo of the store. It's now closed and up for sale. Maybe someone will buy it, make it like it was, and I'll have the opportunity to drive the few hundred miles just to retrieve some memories.
If you're ever in San Gabriel, Texas, take a look at the old store. If it's now open, go in for a soft drink. If not, just sit on the bench by the porch and think of how things used to be. It's a beautiful place and full of memories.