"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Church Services"--Saying grace at Grace's Kitchen

Grace's Kitchen, "Where everybody says Grace," was owned by 260-pound cook Nancy Grace and her 120-pound husband Bub, a member of AA. She cooked, he helped.
The town's only Main Street Cafe specialized in chicken fried steak with pinto beans, and Nancy's homemade lemon meringue pie, but on Sundays they set up a buffet for church members, starting at noon and lasting till 2.
The cafe was in an old red brick building next to the Panhandle Index, the weekly newspaper office, 25 feet wide, with the kitchen in the rear in front of the one bathroom, a counter and open window facing the diners. The floor was bare cement, the walls bare brick except for photos of fishermen and their catches. 
Long folding tables for groups of six to eight and square tables  were covered with vinyl red and white checked tablecloths. Each table held salt and pepper shakers, a jar of catsup and of Tabasco sauce, a full pitcher of ice water, plastic glasses, paper napkins,  coffee cups, a single sheet laminated yellow menu, and a plastic  flower in a plastic vase. The chairs were plastic Walmart vintage lawn chairs. Yellow fluorescent lights, and two noisy ceiling fans hung from the ceiling.
Skinny Blanche Everson was the only waitress, gray hair rolled up in a bun on her head, thick glasses, stained apron, a pencil she never used for orders behind her ear, coffee pot permanently in her hand except when serving. It seemed she knew what every body wanted before they sat down and never forgot an order.
The Sunday buffet usually carried two "specials"--usually fried chicken and meatloaf, brown gravy, massed potatoes, pinto beans and green beans, plus the salad bar of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, relish, fake bacon bits, crackers, and ranch and Thousand Island dressing. The price had been $9.99 for as long as anyone could remember.
When church let out, the crowd was so thick you "couldn't shake a stick" at them, Blanche would say, and people lounged out on the sidewalk against a light pole in front of the diagonally parked cars or sitting in two benches, waiting for tables to vacate.

1 comment:

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