AURORA -CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE
One more for you to consider: I finished sweeping and mopping the grease spots on the garage floor, closed and locked the garage door after changing into clean clothes. I stopped at McDonald's to clean up my hands and arms up to the elbows and my dirty face, cleaning up the sink from the mess - sorry no paper towels to do the floor Mac, and as for that half-ass 1950's model hand drier....They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on redesigns of their stores, and leave the old style driers in their reconfigured restrooms. Anyway...I always use a half dozen napkins to finish MY drying. Then I bought two $1 burgers and a LARGE Vanilla shake, and headed east.
Half way there I got real thirsty, still in need of hydration from my long (9:00-4:00) day in the garage and landfill, so when I hit Aurora I figured I would stop. Now, just to set the scene; Route 50 between Grafton and Mt. Storm (which has a Volunteer Fire Department, Post Office, and one small gas station/convenience store) is maybe 50 miles, but takes one hour and fifteen minutes to drive. A sports car/motorcycle enthusiast's dream, not so much for everybody else. You have to drive to Keyser before you have any semblance of civilization ( 74 miles 1 h 42 mi according to Google and that's if you DON'T get behind a truck hauling trees or goods). Mountains up and mountains down, and that means curves, curves, curves, and not much more. A few "Unincorporated" villages with 45 mph speed limits and not much more. "Cool Springs" a good stop for gas and food, a few smaller gas stations where you can grab a beer and pack of cigarettes or gallon of milk.
When I hit Aurora I saw the new DOLLAR STORE on the left, but....nyah I knew there was another little gas station/convenience store on the right. I drove another minute and pulled off to the right. I walked in and grabbed a coke. "How're you doing?" the shop keeper asked. "I am BEAT!" I told him. "I'm tired. Should be home sleeping. 50 cents." Here in the middle of nowhere and a cold can of coca cola is only 50 cents! Wow. I pulled two quarters out of my pocket, handed them to him and leaned on the counter with the other. He leaned on both elbows after he closed the cash drawer.
We had made a connection . So when a plump woman waddled in with two peanut butter cookies wrapped in plastic wrap, I stood back, took a long cool sip on my coke and listened as she explained that these were the last two and just for him. She looked at me and told me he used to have a bakery and he should open it again, she would even do the baking for him. He sighed and told us, "My goal is to be the little grocery store that closes down the corporate DOLLAR store down the street." I told him I was impressed with his inventory. And his pricing. Plumpster bid adieu and walked out. We resumed our conversation. He explained that the bakery was okay but a lot of work for the return and no one to help. "What about your peanut butter cookie lady," I asked, she seemed willing to bake for you." "You'll notice I did not open, much less eat the cookies she left. I put them over there." He then made a gesture, wiping his nose several times to suggest in a comical sense that those cookies, and her employment as a baker were both DOA.
We chatted for about 20 minutes, stopping as several customers came and went, an African American woman whose husband was filling their car with gas, a hot little honey with long blonde hair and bare midriff (YOWZA!), and a ruggedly handsome guy who pulled up with his motor cycle with his lady on the back. He called them all by their first names, and they showed their respect for him as well. Ron told me he was a Chemistry teacher before he took over the store, we talked about education, and cars (he had a 1966 VW and 1963 Ghia out back), and my book on Newtown. I promised to bring him a copy on my next trip to Grafton (will more than likely mail him a signed copy). I gave him my card, and he handed me an 8x11 sheet of paper with his card copied on top, apologizing for it being the best he had. I shook his hand, and headed out, stopping to chat with the guy on the bike and his wife. But that is another story for another day.