Sometime during the 1800’s, John-Baptiste Alphonse Karr made the statement, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. Roughly translated, it’s the quote we often use – ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Over two hundred years later, this statement retains the truth of the words.
One of the things I find I love the best about living in a rural community is that, although we have moved forward with technology, social mores and the like, so many things stay the same as they were a hundred or more years ago. Take for instance the old men sitting on the benches or in rocking chairs in front of the feed store, swapping tales, offering up the juiciest tidbits of gossip and being ‘arm chair’ quarterbacks on every subject ranging from sports, government, agriculture to the spread on the tables at the last pot luck.
In our area, we are lacking in a traditional General Store. However, it was only the matter of a simple change that assists in keeping that age-old tradition alive. The old General Store is now called Kash Corner, and even though there isn’t room for a bench out front, there is room for two small booths tucked along a back wall. It is there that the great minds of Red River Parish come in the wee hours of the morning to sit, drink coffee and hash out the very same subject that the old men of yore did.
When given the rare opportunity, I love standing close by and listening to the conversations. On occasion, someone will pass by and add their two cents worth. You can always tell whether that person is deemed ‘intelligent’ enough to enter into the conversation just by the look in the bench sitters’ eyes or by the subtle shift of their shoulders. Sure enough, let that person walk out of the store and eyes begin rolling, heads begin to shake back and forth, and one – if not all – of them will mutter, ‘his dog sure don’t hunt’.
If you are ever looking for a good history lesson, the place to be is tucked away in a quiet corner that is close enough to listen in on these conversations. I have learned more about the history of our area through these men, and have discovered the worth or worthlessness of just about every person in the Parish – the greater majority of which have long since passed from this earth. It’s also entertaining to sit and watch when two or more are in disagreement. It then becomes a verbal free-for-all, until another subject enters the ring. The earlier ‘discussion’ is then forgotten about and the new subject is thoroughly dissected until it lays like a bleached skeleton in the desert.
The one thing you have to watch carefully is when there is a sudden and complete silence at the booths. This can mean only two things – either a stranger has entered their midst, or the subject of discussion has just walked in and they are all watching surreptitiously to see if said subject does anything worth discussing.
If you don’t believe John-Baptiste, then just stop by Kash Corner for an early morning visit. If you are quiet enough, you just may overhear one of the greatest conversations you have ever heard. And if not, you can at least get a quick firsthand view of what it must have been like in front of the old feed store in years gone by. It’s a great piece of history that has perfectly blended with the present. Just don’t do or say anything stupid. You could be the topic of conversation for years to come.