Friday, July 1, 2011

Mr. Ledbetter's Sandwich

The decrepit old Ledbetter's store sits alongside highway 160 on the west side of Theodosia.  It is no longer in business, but in its heyday, it was a thriving grocery store, and a place for neighbors to gather.  Years ago, when my husband, Don, first moved here, the store was already in decline.  Besides the occasional tourist, the store's only customers were old folks who lived nearby and didn't want to drive the additional 3 mile round trip to the newer grocery store in Theodosia, then known as Hill Country Supermarket.  Or, they might have been afraid of missing out on some juicy gossip that was a reliable offering at Ledbetter's store.

Don tells the story of being summoned there, by the late proprietor, the colorful and popular Hobart Ledbetter, to talk about his real estate.  The 2 of them were alone in the store, and lunchtime was approaching, so, as they talked, Mr. Ledbetter walked with Don around the store.  Stopping in front of the bread counter, he scooted one loaf toward him on the shelf, loosened the twist tie, and took out 2 slices from the center of the loaf.  Then he fluffed the remaining slices back together and replaced the twist tie, shoving the loaf back in line with the others on the counter.  Next, he rounded the aisle to the condiments, Don following along, and selected a jar of mustard.  He reached into his pocket and drew out a pocket knife, which he opened, and unscrewing the lid of the mustard jar, he used his knife to spread the mustard on the bread.  Then he replaced the cap, and put the jar neatly back on the shelf in line with the other jars.   Unselfconsciously, and without a comment about what he was doing, Mr. Ledbetter proceeded to the meat case, where he helped himself to some baloney, before resealing the package, and putting it back in the cooler, never slowing his stream of conversation.

Don, all this time, was trying not to notice, and was hoping he wouldn't be offered lunch. That idea, thankfully, never occurred to Mr. Ledbetter, who ate his sandwich as they wrapped up their conversation.

Mr. Ledbetter may have wondered why his store was in decline.  Let's just say he was a victim of progress.  At least, that will be a good way to remember it.


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