It’s about more than just peanuts, though hot boiled peanuts is reason plenty enough to steer a car off a freeway on a early Sunday morning. Like most southern girls, we were weaned on green peanuts stewed in a salt brine.
You won’t find these north of the Mason Dixon line. Most Yankees never develop a taste for them. “Taste like dirt,” one of my Oregon friends said. She said the same thing about black-eyed peas. We ain’t spoke in several years. But if you want to give them a try, head south through Eufala, Alabama and you are sure to find more than one fella scooping them up into stryfoam cups or plastic baggies, the same kind that your brother used to keep his stash of marijuana in. If you happen across Buck’s place, just south of somewhere, they’ll cost you $2 and the brine ain’t so salty it’ll pucker the insides of your lips like a soak in a hot tub will do to your fingers.
You can get peanuts at any hour of the day or night at Buck’s place. It’s the only one open 24 hours a day, he said. That’s because Buck runs on a honor system. If he’s got someplace to go, say the VA hospital or a fishing trip, he leaves the plastic baggies out and the pan of hot p’nuts and asks people to he’p themselves. And they do. Once after a four day trip away he arrived back to find over $900 in his tin can. One fellow had even made change. Trade his $100 for five $20s and left Buck a note telling him so.
No need to worry if you don’t have the cash on the way to Florida. Buck will trust you for it. “People drop back by coming home and pay me what they owe me,” he says.
Somebody ought to put Buck in charge of the SEC.
“The problem with this nation is the media,” he says, unaware that he’s talking to a journalist, now muted. “If they would just do what they are supposed to do — report the news — rather than giving their opinions and all this gloom and doom all the time we’d be better off. I don’t listen to them anymore.”
He turned the TV completely off. Shut ‘er down.
“I ain’t saying things ain’t bad. They is. But they ain’t as bad as those news people make them out to be all the time.”
Not in his neck of the woods anyway. Buck has never been robbed. Never had anyone steal a nickel from him. He trusts people and they honor that trust by doing the right thing.
Paying up their $2 and not taking what ain’t theirs.
Still, Buck keeps a friend nearby to he’p him out should he need some backup. He is, after all, a southener born and bred. It’s a man’s duty to carry a gun.
Comes in handy for shooting squirrels and snakes.
Buck lives at the p’nut shop. Makes his own bar-b-que right out back.
“We don’t eat it out there though. I don’t like flies. I won’t eat anything a fly has lit upon ’cause you don’t know where’s the last place that fly lit upon. Could be a dead cow. Dead cat. Or a pile of poop. Whatever it was, you know it wasn’t good,” he said, shaking his head. “If a fly lit upon my food that plate is going in the trash.”
“People’s got their standards,” Sister Tater said.
He did a tour in Korea but didn’t go to ‘Nam. “I had three kids and they wasn’t taking anyone with more than two so I didn’t have to go,” he said.
He was a jump master at Benning for 20 years and worked the p’nut stand even then.
“These ain’t hot enough, yet,” he said. “I tripped the wire without knowing it and didn’t get it plugged back in till a bit ago.”
“Hot enough for me,” Sister Tater said, taking her baggies and thanking Buck.
Honest people travel up and down the roadways of this country.
You just won’t hear about them on the nightly news, so much.
Glimpses from the road
Oddly enough given the conversation with Buck this eatery is named “Fly Creek.”
If you go, I recommend the music and the wilted spinach salad with cranberries and tangerines.
And remember, take time to appreciate the beautiful things in life. Smell the roses or at least admire them as you travel past.
And never be in such a rush you fail to make time for good friends.