Wednesday after I exited my workshop in Meridian on Wednesday, I had planned to tour the Dentzel carousel at Highland Park but since it wasn’t open, I had to switch things up a bit. I pulled out my phone to figure out whether the other destinations in Meridian that I was interested in were open or not and if I had enough time to make it to either of them. Luckily both the Rose Hill Cemetery and the Causeyville General Store were open, although the General Store was not open for as long as the website said it would be. I’m saving the Rose Hill pictures for next week, so that means today you get the photos from Causeyville.
I can’t remember what site I looked at to tell me if the General Store would still be open when I got there, but whichever one it was, it said that it was open until 7:00. Given the distance from town, I thought that was a little odd for a small country store to be open that late, but I headed out anyway, thinking that maybe they stayed open a couple of extra hours hoping to catch people who were finishing up with their conventions and such (like me). It was a winding, long 12 miles out to Causeyville, and in reading about it, I kinda wish I’d spent a little bit more time poking around.
When I arrived it was about 5 minutes to 5:00, and Mrs. Dorothy was putting things in her car. While I might liked to have gone inside, I decided at that point to be respectful of the fact that Mrs. Dorothy was ready to leave and just photographed the things outside. I said hello and continued to wander around snapping pictures.
Of course! While I waited for her to come back with the keys, I continued to take pictures of the details of over 100 years of active commerce and change.
Mrs. Dorothy showed me the interior of the original trading post, telling me its story and its recent history. I didn’t take any pictures of it because of the cluttered state. She said that she was trying to get things cleared out so she could turn it into more of an antique store because they’ve just accumulated too much stuff. Katrina destroyed the original farm house and those things made their way into the trading post on top of just the debris of the life lived. According to the terms of her husband’s will, she has to operate the property as a store-front or it has be sold or razed. She doesn’t want it to come to that, but it’s difficult on her own.
We went around to the back of the building to see the grist mill, and Mrs. Dorothy apologized for the locks, the time it took to remove them. We had a discussion about simpler times and how in the past, we didn’t have to lock everything up – the places where we grew up, a screen door was all we had and that was enough. No locks, no worries. And how we worked for what we had – to get through college and then as teachers – some times two or three jobs – to make ends meet and prosper. It’s different today…in both major and minor ways.
As Mrs. Dorothy showed me the grist mill (I took a picture, but it was dark. I didn’t want to impose further to properly set-up the shot, and I got the feeling Mrs. Dorothy was tired, ready to go home for the day), she talked about the process of sorting and cleaning the corn – all of which she does. The mill is operational on Saturdays only because she has to do all of that work on her own, and when it get combines with the demands of running the store, taking care of all of the stray animals (dogs, cats, and chickens) that seem to make the place home, trying to sort out the piles of stuff collected over lifetimes, and then living a life of her own, there just isn’t much time left over.
After a little more conversation, I thanked Mrs. Dorothy profusely again and made my way back to the front with her where the gray cat was still lounging out front, joined by a very elderly dog – stiff and moving with great difficulty, content to lounge in the grass until she was called to get ready to go home. I didn’t feel right about getting down in the gravel to take her picture, so I don’t have one of her.
Instead, I leave you with the gas pump. It was a great 30 minute stop, reminding me of the tiny places where I grew up, and making me a little misty and nostalgic for a moment. Sub in a sawmill for the grist mill, and things could have been incredibly familiar for me. Not that I miss working in a sawmill; I don’t. Just that those places and those things are deeply ingrained in my biology. I get it in ways that I sometimes wish I didn’t. These kinds of places will soon be gone, and I wonder how much longer Mrs. Dorothy can hold on. She made no mention of children to help, so I don’t know if she and her late husband had any or if they have just moved off as so many of us in the younger generations have – in search of better opportunities or a different, easier, more exciting (?) life.
When the Causeyville General Store is gone, people will miss it. They’ll think, “Man! I wish I could run by there for a Coke,” or “I’d sure like some of that red-rind cheese,” but those things – like the hand-dipped ice cream that they can no longer serve because the health department requires installation of non-porous surfaces all around, covering the gorgeous heart pine counters and floors – will be gone. It won’t be too long before the place and all it was disappears from memory all together. It’s a small thing in the grand scheme, but when it is gone, what will we have lost?