"Following where my camera leads me!"

"Following where my camera leads me!"

Monday, January 9, 2017

It's a Mystery

This abandoned building is way out in the country. A long and scenic drive far away from our city. So what do you think the sign says?
At first I thought it said "Beer". But it could be "Ben's"? 
What was this place? A bar way way out in the country that came to life on Saturday nights with loud music, boisterous young men, lively dancing, pretty girls in swirly-swishing skirts and cold beer? Folks in the crunchy gravel "parking lot" sitting outside on a muggy Carolina summer night, swatting at the "skeeters" and taking a break from the sweaty dancing.

 Maybe back in the forties there was a small bar inside, a piano where someone could pound out the tunes like
"boogie woogie bugle boy of company "B" and "don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but Me", and a smallish dance floor where couples could lindy-hop and jitter-bug--- hug and sway to the music and dream their dreams before the men were shipped out to war?

Or maybe this was a little auto repair shop? A place to buy new tires and get your brakes worked on?

 A "fillin" station? Where you could take a rest from the long road and purchase not only gas but an ice cold "Co-Cola" and a pack of salty Tom's peanuts or cheese crackers. There were big maps to buy and maybe lots of colorful free brochures with exotic pictures on them of places like Myrtle Beach, Cypress Gardens and Brookgreen Gardens.

 The attendant would check the air in your tires, pump your gas, clean your windshield and collect your money and even thank you for your business.
 Perhaps it was a little beauty shop where the ladies would keep their "standing appointment" every Friday at ten a.m. for a wash and set? Where hair was rolled on "rollers" and then ladies sat underneath big old fashioned heavy plastic hair dryers that GOT SO HOT and burned the back of your neck. 

Then your hair was "back-combed"   "teased"    "ratted" with a "rat-tail comb" and then smoothed and smoothed and smoothed some more until just right....then "spray-netted" with the heavy sticky lacquer from a can. Way way back we called it "spray-net"--now it's known as hairspray of course.
 There was a cooler full of ice cold Dr. Peppers and RC colas and Pepsi colas--take your pick and hang on tight to your little cold glass bottle as you carefully and slowly guide it around the little maze in the big cooler until you get it to the place where you take your bottle out and then use that attached bottle opener to get that top OFF--so you could get that nice long cold drink.

 There was always a coffee pot percolator brewing too, and a few mugs sitting on the counter, along with a sugar bowl of little bright pink envelopes and an extra large economy size jar of coffemate creamer. Somewhat tattered copies of Photoplay, TV Mirror, Silver Screen, Glamour,  and Ingenue were in stacks next to all the chairs and the air was thick with the smell of "permanent", and the floaty white haze of Salems and Kools.
Maybe it was a small neighborhood pony-keg?  
A place to run into on the way home from work to buy a half gallon of milk, a newspaper and a copy of Look magazine, a six pack, a dozen eggs, a glass jar of Sanka and a few cans of cat food.
It could've been a small little country grocery?
 Where ladies, armed with colorful little beaded change purses jangling with change and small folders full of coupons would arrive once a week to do their "grocery-ing". They would carry cartons and cartons of empty glass Pepsi and Coke bottles to the customer service counter to get their refund money back on the bottles, which they usually applied to the grocery bill that day. Moms in cotton shorts or pedal pusher pants and sleeveless blouses wandered up and down the store aisles, choosing what they needed and what was on their weekly lists to make meat loaf, Shake and Bake Chicken, tuna casseroles, and salmon cakes. Sometimes new babies cried and sometimes you would run into friends and you would stop and visit, sipping on a Tab, while smoking together and then looking for a big floor model ash tray somewhere in the soup aisle. New items like Pillsbury Space Sticks and Hawaiian Punch and Bugles snacks might make it into the buggy. 
photo from internet

Going through the lines took longer. People called "checkers" tallied up your groceries item by item, nothing "rang up" or was "scanned". It took longer, but people were sure friendlier and more patient. Your weekly checker probably knew you, of you, or your children--and she probably knew you would have that ten cent coupon for the D-Zerta low calorie gelatin dessert or the five cents off for the Sugar Pops cereal. 
 Even small children learned to be patient by sitting in the grocery buggy and being quiet and nicely behaved while Mommy shopped---and if you DID BEHAVE you most surely would receive that coveted pack of rainbow Chic-lets or that Little Golden Book at the cash register. By the way cash registers were actually full of cash!-- LOL! Most people took their cash to the grocery store and the drug store and the butcher and the shoe store and the hardware store. There definitely weren't debit cards and nobody paid for groceries with credit cards, very seldom did people even write checks but if they did, sometimes they would write your license number and your phone on the check.

Maybe this was a little out of the way diner?

Where you could order a bowl of vegetable soup served with a half dozen of those little crackly clear cellophane crackers packets and maybe a melty grilled cheese sandwich?
 How about the "blue plate" special with meatloaf and mashed "taters" with good brown gravy and a slice of white bread for an early supper?
 A place where you could still get a good tuna or old fashioned egg salad sandwich served with "tater" chips and a crunchy sour pickle and a cup of good strong coffee for your weekday lunch--from the plant, from the office, from the school, from the store, from the hospital. 

This was a place where the waitresses still wore crisp little caps on their heads, their hair neatly tucked into hair nets underneath those caps, and  handkerchiefs pinned like pretty "special day" corsages onto their cotton dress uniforms--which more than likely had a nicely starched apron over it.

 Places like this had old fashioned heavy glass  pedestal cake stands stacked high with donuts, dark chocolate cake slabs and carrot cake slices. Guaranteed there would be slices of lemon and butterscotch pie piled high with glossy browned meringue.  
I can see many things this little place might've been, underneath the heat and the layers of dirt and the bugs and passage of time and weather and tenacious vines that now engulf it.
So...what do y'all think the mystery building is?


  1. i hadn't thought about the check out line at the grocery store - there were no scanning devices, i remember. and blue plate specials have turned into early birds = comfort food!! i remember a lot of this.

    i think it says beer, i think it was a bar. i wonder if there is a way for you to find out!!!

  2. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Debbi! The building looks like a filling station to me. Everything looks so green down your way.


  3. The sign looks masculine so I doubt it was beauty parlor. It could say beer, but my old eyes can't see very well these days. I am sure there is a record somewhere that will answer your mystery.

  4. What a fun post! I love seeing old buildings like this when we travel. It's surprising how many of them are still full of 'stuff' too! It look like the last word is STORE...but it reminds me of a garage with the big doors that open. It may have been several things over the years! Great photos and fun info. I love traveling back in time! Hugs!

  5. Grocery buggy!! Pedal pushers!! Beauty shop!! Filling station!!

    I've been back twice now, just wallowing in the words. Your memories, and my own, so alike even to the descriptive phrasings. I can just SMELL the interior of each and every establishment you describe, down to the odor of the perm solution, the deep black rubber of the tires, and the icy/salt/black rubber gasket of the Co-Cola case. How I love your adventures and travels, and I think your imagination is the bestest TRIP of all!

    I can almost make out "BELL'S SUPER STORE, but that could be a name for dozens of places, with their bygone breezes from another time, another us. I just can't figure out the door configuration, and lack of windows necessary to most of those places we think of. Maybe the wooden doors were hurricane coverings, and there is plate-glass under there, safe from the off-road invitation to vandals?

    Girl, you DO beat all.

    Stay well and warm,


  6. hmm...I've lived thru so much of what you describe...one step back in time, tho...we got FREE maps at the filling stations...ha...
    Like everyone else, I can't make out the sign but I choose to think it was a garage.....a place to get your car fixed.

  7. Debbi, I just love how you think! Those ghost signs always captivate me but especially when, like this one, you really don't know what something was! I love all your scenarios, each and every one!

  8. This is a wonderful post Debbie and brings back so many memories for me of all of those types of places you described. I'm going to say it was a little country store like my grandparents used to run in a small town in south Georgia. Too small for buggies or even aisles though. Most folks just came up to the counter and asked for what they wanted. I used to help run the store when I stayed with them in the summertime, learning to fill orders, weigh and wrap pieces of cheese sliced from the big wheel of it under the counter, and even make change from the cash register when the customers paid. My reward was usually an ice cold Orange Crush or RC Cola from the drink box. Good memories!

  9. HI Debbi! Oh, this a fun post and being a southern girl, I always said 'fillin' station', still do on occasion. Well, it kinda looks like a fillin' station to me. Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  10. I think it says Bell's Hair Salon LOL
    I remember all those things you mentioned.

  11. I love riding around with my camera in hand and seeing if I can locate places like this. Being a photographer I tend to run into some neat places. Great story.