The Chicken Hut

by Cindi on July 2, 2022

I have been extremely stressed recently about the current status of the world. It seems that – no, it doesn’t “seem,” there actually IS such a divisiveness – on every topic…that we all have to “pick a side.” It’s heartbreaking, and I miss simpler days, days without so many opinions and arguments. During my most difficult times, I always return to my Granny’s house in the country. I can’t return there literally; my mama sold the house in 2011. It was quickly turned into a junkyard; the buyer just wanted the land so people could pay him to dump machinery, trailers, and other items on the Sandhills grass of my childhood. So speaking of heartbreaking, a quick search on Google Earth brings me to tears. But today I returned to the town of my ancestors – the land where they’re buried – and I left feeling lighter and more connected than divided.

The first stop there was for lunch at The Chicken Hut. It’s actually not called that anymore, but my aunt still called it that when I would take my mama for a visit. Aunt Hazel was always happy to see us and happy for the opportunity to catch a ride over to The Chicken Hut. She and mama would tell stories, most of the time, ones we had already heard: “I held an axe over her head when she was a baby. What if I had dropped it?” and “I used to babysit her when she was just born. They’d put her in a wooden box while they worked in the fields.” Today I sat there and felt Hazel and my mama there. I pointed out the last booths we sat in and imagined seeing them eating fried okra, just like before.

My aunt Hazel and my Mama – best friends since 1927!

But I noticed something different this time: people were actually NICE to each other. As we were sitting in our booth, two older women across from us offered us a local paper, asking, “Do you want to read this while you wait?” I mumbled something about how thankful I was since I had no phone signal there. Then I thought about how DUMB it was to think I needed to look at my phone to read. I soaked in every small town story and every picture in that paper. There was even a word search and a crossword puzzle like the good ol’ days. While we ate, I noticed those ladies again – this time they caught the attention of a young couple with small kids and offered their extra fries to them. I was so moved by the mere kindness of strangers to each other. I saw the young mom remind her daughter to say “thank you” and the little girl got up, walked over to the ladies, and gave them a hug. Complete strangers. I felt like a kid again, hanging out in my grandma’s small town, without a care in the world. An innocent world.

It reminded me of my Granny’s sweet bubby bushes. And a simpler time.

My Granny

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