First, I have a thousand reasons why I am not okay…there are many trees I miss to the point of pain, there is my fishing lake, there are old homes and buildings and fences of iron, and there are the o so many places where God and I have met that call to me as well. Most of the people who glue me to that place have gone on…but the ones remaining, I miss terribly.
But I do have one reason that I am okay with not living in Athens, Georgia.
Some cosmic connection broke in me the day A&A Bakery closed. Yes, those who know me well have heard this lament nigh on twenty years now…but for those of you who have not…
A&A Bakery was everything small town life is supposed to be. The cherry turnovers, gingerbread cookies and pie were good, the cake squares, without compare. But what I loved was all the things that it was not. It was not shiny. The door, always open if A&A was, was huge and heavy, not glass, except for this small area that I was too short to see in. You walked through a screen door. Next to it sat an aged Coca-Cola reach in cooler complete with bottled Co-Colas (little) and Orange Crushes and Budwines and anything really good, in bottles.There was a giant scale in the cake display area that would weigh you exactly to the pound and all kinds of boxes stored on shelves just below the wooden ceiling. The floor had been modernized and was now squared and scarred and stained. And it dipped in a few places so you had to know your way to not stumble. Most people knew their way just fine. It was not innovative. They had a little grocery aisle and a refrigerator section where you could pick up things like white bread and bologna…This bakery did not make bread. The bread company down the street made bread. They made birthday cakes… this was long before Winn Dixie dreamed of such… and cream rolls and real big Brownies with icing.
You paid right next to the Coca-Cola cooler and the rack of Tom’s products, I have to tell about the time I thought my Aunt was going to marry the Tom’s boy…she did not and I was so grieved by that decision, until she married into the Coca- Cola people. But that’s another story. The register was this government tan color with a black face and little stubby cylindrical buttons in demarcations of 10, 25, 50 cents and such. It was not technologically up to date, but neither were the eighty year olds that took your order and your money, cash of course.
A&A was small town at its best, a taste as good as Crisco and powdered sugar can get and a mish-mash of clutter and confusion. And everything old…because there is nothing wrong with old if it works just fine.
Not long after the owners finally gave in to the ravages of old, old age…a bar moved in to A&A. Another stupid, nondescript bar, that I knew wouldn’t last any longer than most…came in and took it all…the intrepid’s floor and the painted wooden ceiling and the real wood and glass counters and even the Coco-Cola cooler. And the screen door, behind which someone had always called, “Hey, let me help you push that stroller on in here” or “Morning, Miss Sara!” or “Come on in ladies, do you want your regular?” was long gone, too.