The wind would blow through the trees, crisp, filled with the scent of pine. The baby blue sky, clouds tinted with delicate pinks and oranges. In the setting sunlight, the pine trees would come alive, the vibrant green standing out against the yellowing grass and fallen pine needles.
There was a soft crunch under my tennis shoes with each step that I took along that dirt path. Over the hill. At the top, I could look down at my grandparent’s home and restaurant. I could sit on the rock jutting out of the ground, beneath the tall, long needled pine tree.
My grandpa built their home. Their entire house was built by hand and I have never seen another place like it. The beautiful old wood and rustic atmosphere were unique even for the small town locale. Originally, my grandparents place was an actual general store. From the stories I have heard, it was also a local hangout; a place where the locals would come to talk and drink coffee. Eventually it became a steakhouse.
On Friday and Saturday nights people would make reservations for a steak or chicken dinner and listen to live, local, country or bluegrass bands. When I was younger I would go to the top of this hill before bedtime. I could hear the music and the diners and smell the steaks cooking on the grill outside.
Growing up next door was amazing. I loved the music and the stories about guests. Like the time that the astronaut came for diner and signed a photograph that they framed and hung on the wall. But on Sundays there was church. Every Sunday my siblings and I would make our way over the hill.
We were usually the first ones there on Sundays. When you first came through the door there was a long wooden church pew, the only pew in the whole place. The old wood of the pew still bore the signs of use, my grandparents never had it refurbished. Above it were handmade wooden shelves filled with some of the coolest western items. I especially loved my grandma’s green Depression glass peanut jar and my grandpa’s cowboy statues.
In the window was an antique cash register that was given to my grandpa many years ago. The buttons stood up off of the rounded surface, covered in an ornate looking metal that I always assumed was brass but may have been something else.
Everything in the store was unlike anything else I had ever seen, from the art on the walls to the old butter churns we used once or twice to make our own butter.
On Sundays, during the winter months we would help our grandparents fold up the tables and set up rows of chairs to sit in during service. We would make as many rows as possible with an aisle down the middle. Then we would set up the projector and hang out until everyone else began to arrive.
During the summer months we would have church in the barn. My grandpa built the barn just like he did the store. He painted it a salmon color on the outside and hung a huge wooden cross on it. We had church in the loft where they kept the hay for the horses below. We would sit on the hay bales during service and then head back to the store for the after service potluck.
Everyone were good friends and Sunday church service was friendly and enjoyable. We never had a bad service. The pastor would read directly from the Bible and he would encourage discussions. We would pray for each other and our friends and families.
When I got older, two things changed. My grandpa started a volunteer fire department, since there wasn’t one nearby. That and they opened the restaurant for lunch and breakfast during the week.
It is easy to say that my grandparents store became a central hub for the community. Their place was the meeting place, and everyone was family. All of us on that mountain, we weren’t just neighbors, we were friends and family; always there for each other.
I haven’t been back in there in a very long time. The restaurant is closed and they don’t have church there anymore, just a small service where they listen to Bible Study and have dinner. It’s hard knowing these things. I never imagined that the restaurant would close, or that church wouldn’t be in the barn. It has been that way for as long as I can remember.
I always imagined that someone would take it over once my grandparents couldn’t do it anymore. That they would still live there and socialize with everyone and leave all of the hard stuff to us. If not us than someone else from the community that they trusted to keep the place going. I guess things are not that easy.
My grandparents place will always mean the world to me. I will treasure it forever.
Stephanie Tiner loves all things writing. After struggling to learn how to read as a child, Stephanie eventually found her way and fell in love with the written word. The first book she read from cover to cover without help was "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. After falling in love with reading, she quickly fell in love with writine. Stephanie Tiner lives with her husband, children, and her dog in Missouri and hopes to someday be a published author.
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