I’m not exactly sure how or where it began, but for more than half my life I identified myself more with our family business than anything else. Many of my earliest memories conjure up memories of being in the kitchen at the truckstop, or behind the counter, or listening to the juke box from a booth. The place was started by my grandfather in 1949 and continued by my dad. It became a pile of rubble just a few years ago. I've written some about the family business, including this three part story: History of Garners, Keep on Truckin', and The Boom Years.
I remember a night I spent at grandpa and grandma’s, and being awakened in the middle of the night I walked to the truckstop in the dark, at 4:00 in the morning because that is where I thought I was supposed to be. I remember a few times being taken to the truckstop and sleeping in a booth during a third shift. I remember helping myself to pickles out of the giant pickle barrel, chocolate ice cream from the soda fountain with marshmallow topping, and candy bars from the candy case. I remember sitting in the large corner booth on Friday nights and eating fish sandwiches for supper. When I was barely tall enough to reach the sink, I washed dishes on Saturdays and grandma would tell me at the end of the day to go to the station and ask grandpa how much I was worth that day. It was usually a silver dollar.
Of course, I doubt I would have continued working there through high school and college if I had only earned a dollar a day. My contribution was mostly in front of the three bowl stainless steel sink. However, I did a fair share of grill cooking and spent one summer pumping gas. Given the choice among the three, I would chose the grill.
I loved this place. I loved the community that it offered by connecting me to neighbors, family, locals, and people from far away places. There are so few of these places left. It seems that the advancement of civilization almost assuredly has no need of places like this. Well, at least they don't think they have the need....but I think we all agree that something is missing.