Friday, December 4, 2009

Unforgettable Krispy Kreme Memory Countdown: No. 1

When I was very young, my mom went back to school for her Master's Degree. With my dad working full-time, my grandparents were asked to watch me.

Granddaddy and I had a schedule to keep on these days. He would greet me when I arrived with a hug from his recliner and a "Heeeey, Pahd-nah!"--that's "Pardner" or "Partner" for y'all city folk. For breakfast, I would have apple sauce, corned beef hash and cubes of cheddar cheese. (Apple sauce remains almost a daily staple for me, while corned beef hash is purchased less frequently but always eaten with nostalgia.) This would be followed by a trip to a playground, either at the Hardee's on Big Bethel Road or the much larger wooden jungle gyms and slides, which I suspect were across Mercury Blvd. at Francis Mallory. Lots of running around and playing and making up games with other kids. The next item on the list was most important: meeting up with the other old men that congregated at Krispy Kreme to smoke, talk and drink coffee.

I remember how the place used to look: the counter that had stools that could spin all the way around, the cigarette ash and the coffee stains. I'd marvel at the doughnuts being made, traveling up and down while the dough would rise until the final stage, when the completed doughnut went by on the conveyor belt and up toward the ceiling where they would cool. (While a lot of this image has changed with sleeker, openly throwback design of today's Krispy Kreme, having the doughnut machinery on public display has thankfully stayed the same.) Granddaddy would buy me two doughnuts: a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut and an original glazed. The chocolate-frosted always felt like the "meal" doughnut that I'd have to endure to get to the dessert doughnut, the original glazed. (In retrospect, I realize that if I had understood things better then, I probably could have asked for two glazed instead and gotten my wish, but it all made sense at the time. First the meal doughnut, then the dessert doughnut.)

Unlike other kids that would come in, I would stay in my seat and behave, which means I gained the approval of the tough old men that we saw there every day. I remember that it was always exciting when "Uncle" Jesse was there; something about the man was dangerous, but in a Butch Cassidy, fun-loving way. My mom tells me I would sometimes report back with a mopey voice that "Uncle Jesse's in jail again." I didn't understand what it meant when a person didn't pay their child support; I just knew I missed my friend. The conversation just wasn't the same without him, but when he came back I was always ready to round the counter the give him a big hug.

But a person couldn't sit at Krispy Kreme all day. There was Bob Barker and
The Price is Right to be watched, followed by professional wrestling--I think every kid's favorite at my age was Hulk Hogan--followed by soaps and/or cartoons.

There may not be
a playground at the Hardee's on Big Bethel anymore. There may not stools at the counter of Krispy Kreme. There may not be any new episodes of The Price is Right with Bob Barker and his skinny microphone. And I may not be able to spend time with my granddaddy anymore. But I do think of these days Granddaddy and I spent together, more than one would probably expect, but most often when I go to Krispy Kreme and take the time to sit and enjoy the moment.

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