Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bozo's and Brownsville

Today was one of those days that help you connect past, present, and future.

Drazen and I drove to Brownsville. We took Highway 70 instead of the interstate. This was, after all, a free day, with no need for hurry.

Driving Hwy. 70 takes me back to my younger years in a way the interstate never could. If we had driven I-40 all those years, I suppose my only memories would be of whatever book I was reading at the time, or maybe of a water tower or two that you see along the way. Or the inevitable sibling squabbles that were part of every longish trip we made.

But Highway 70, with its two lanes and slower pace, was made for looking out the windows and noticing things. The nurseries and concrete statues along the way while it's still called Summer Avenue, the undulating hills that start up once you leave city limits, the cotton fields with flowery white beauty against their darker stems, the horses and cows in their pastures, the quaint houses in small towns, and eventually the swampy Loosahatchie and Hatchie bottoms were always enough to hold my interest for an hour.

And today we did something that I always wanted to do when I was growing up. We stopped in Mason and had lunch at Bozo's Hot Pit BBQ. Growing up, we did eat barbeque from Bozo's, but it was never on our way to Grandmother's. I remember going there as a group, a whole bunch of us, maybe for someone's birthday, after we'd gotten to Brownsville. And I remember various family members being sent to pick up barbeque to eat back at Grandmother's. But to just stop on the way and sit down and eat--this was a first.

For those who don't know, Bozo's has been around since 1923. The servers were all wearing tee-shirts celebrating their 86th anniversary. And this is the place used to film part of the 2005 movie Walk the Line. I remember when watching the movie thinking it looked awfully like Bozo's and being delighted to learn via the credits that indeed it was.

So, we had lunch, then drove on up the road. We visited my 91-year-old third cousin, then walked around the square, where many of the businesses have changed names and purpose over the years. But The Economy Store, which Granddaddy was part of starting, is still going strong--with different owners for many decades now, but still related to the original other owners, and related to the cousin we visited.

Granddaddy's "Christmas Furniture Store" (last name was Christmas) is now "Lock, Stock, and Barrel," but it was neat to peer in the windows and see that it is at least still a furniture store.

After that we went to my grandparents' house, whose current owners have graciously given me permission to enjoy the grounds if ever they are not home and I want to stop by. So we walked around, seeing how the sweetheart roses and crepe myrtle have grown, how the family is still using the same old swing frame--and of course I had to sit and swing a while. We looked at this plant and that birdhouse, the laundry line and the doghouse, and naturally each time I looked in any direction, images of people and memories of events came along with the views.

From there we went to the cemetery, and for the first time I actually didn't cry too very much. I tend to get very caught up in the past when I go there alone, being hit with the thought that an entire part of life is just over--but somehow being there today with Drazen, and the fact that we had gone to Bozo's and planned to go again, made a difference. It sounds funny, but it really did.

We looked around for a while at the various gravestones. For America, it's a pretty old cemetery. Another time I'll have to share some photos I made there on a visit with my sister a while back.

Then the sun was getting quite low, and we left. We drove back via Koko Road, with its beautiful tree tunnels and cotton fields and curvy hills. Then back through Stanton and again to Bozo's, this time for a shared piece of German chocolate pie. And we even got sandwiches to take home for Sunday lunch. (Meat, slaw, and buns all packed separately, of course. You can't beat their customer service.)

Then back home to Memphis, with the memory of a lovely day to savor. And the thought that we'll go back again just made the whole day better.

A church down the road from Bozo's, photo taken on another trip. No snow here yet!


Lucy said...

Wonderful day, thanks for recounting it.

Lawrence Underwood said...

You made me cry. I was driving, riding, and eating right there alongside you. Those are some precious places, memories, and people. Thanks.

Bozo's is rightly famous for its barbecue.

Sheila said...

Well, Lawrence, I wish you could have been there with us. Maybe one of these days....I did mention that our new house has a guestroom, right?