Garners: final reflections

It was painful to watch the old building be treated with such neglect by the new owners. Once they reopened, they had cobbled up part of the building and clearly were working under the assumption that business was just going to come to them. They closed within a year. And then the building just sat there, vacant.

Difficult to drive past and look at, and probably most difficult for my parents to see on a daily basis, the building quickly began to fall into disrepair. Strange what only 10 years can do to a building. The rear roof formed a leak that led to the kitchen ceiling collapsing. Small trees began to sprout up from joints in the asphalt to the point where a few trees were easily 6" around near the building and at the fuel pumps.

Two years ago it got the attention of the county health department because windows and glass doors had been broken out. These were boarded up, but the building sat easy prey for vandals. It was about that time that I stuck my head in the back door and in many ways was sorry I did.

The owner sold it again to someone who was more speculative in nature....due to the new U.S. 31 being planned with the building near the end of the interchange. And it was that thought that made the county realize the potentially valuable property should be cleaned up. So, a demolition order was placed on the building prompting the current owner to demolish it himself to avoid a lien. Except for the roof, the entire building was masonry construction....and it made a large debris pile.

Two weeks before it was demolished, knowing what was planned, I took my wife and kids into the building for their first and last visit. I think they questioned why on earth they were there. But since it was such a big part of my life and our family's seemed the right thing to do. While my kids never saw it opened, five generations of the family did.

My sister called me frantically last Wednesday to let me know that they had started demolition. We thought we had another week. With permission mom and dad and my sister were pulling material out of the building....a few remaining chairs, a table, glass block from the counter and our specials board. By the time I could get there to see it on Thursday morning, the station had already been imploded. I walked around and took a few shots that morning.

Easter rolled around and my brother and I were talking about it and we decided to go up to the building and scavenge around. We brought home all of the original sandstone ashlars that remained....they're now in a heap at our house....along with some brick and glass block. I plan to sponsor an exhibit at the Historic Crossroads Museum, using the glass block to construct part of a counter.

So, I say good bye. I still have pictures and memories, but there was something in me that had always hoped that it would stay there. It was a solid enough building-the walls would have stood forever. It had already taken on a bit of a "ruins" ambiance; I'm not sure that's how I would have wanted to see it, or remember it. I think most of us who are grounded in any way at all have these kinds of places.....maybe it's home or our grandparents farm. For me, it was the truckstop.

With its passing is yet another reminder that mom & pop places are disappearing more rapidly now than ever and with that, I think we are losing what is truly best about America. Truly what made us who we are today. As we sink into a nation of greed and corruption at the hands of massive corporate enterprise it is difficult to see that we could ever return to the glory days of small private establishments as the bedrock of our communities.

I guess I just wax nostalgic for the time when we were about real neighbors, farm communities and living slower, simpler lives.


PNW Hoosier said…

I was sad to hear that the owners let the place deteriorate. It was such a cornerstone of our teenage years.

Anonymous said…
Nice taking this nostalgic trip down your memory lane to the family Truck Stop.

I will never forget the first time I heard of the place I was caught off guard and I laughed at the notion because the concept of a "Christian Truck Stop" had somewhat seemed an oxymoron of sorts for me. Please, no offense meant to anyone, just my humor I suppose.

I was wrong, and am still pleased to report that around there I met one of the absolutely kindest families with whom I have had the pleasure to share company and conversation.

Looking forward to more good stories and jaunts down familiar paths as well as some new ones come May.
hoosier reborn said…
thanks for your thoughts....I'm heading to Gettysburg for the weekend and will travel parts of both the Lincoln Highway and National Road. pics to follow.
Anonymous said…
I can imagine that this has been a reflective time for you, watching a place that was so woven into your life be demolished, leaving only memories behind.

I think every generation laments the loss of the things that held our lives together.

I encourage you to think about what good things there are today that form the fabric of our lives, things our children will lament when they are gone.
Ishmael said…
I've truly enjoyed the reflective posts.

I'm a Marshall Co. immigrant -didn't know it was formerly the Garner Truck Stop. I've driven by the dilapidated property for 13 years, never giving it a second glance. Couldn't have imagined that it was so special a place for someone.

Makes me wonder how many treasures I unknowingly drive by every day.
Natalie said…
Gettysburg!! PA???? And you're not going to tell us? Do you realize we live a stone's throw from there? Seriously. Give us a call.

Anyway, loved all the posts, pictures and memories. Never knew any of this and I found it fascinating. It is always so sad to see places torn down. I always wonder what they were like in their hay days...and now I know the story of at least one place.

Seriously, Gettysburg. Give us a CALL.
vanilla said…
Just arrived home from Texas and opened HH to find this really cool documentary, Garners from inception to demise. The property, I mean, not the people!
You have some great memories and the willingness to share them. Thanks.

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