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Small Town Hotel
Joe F. Combs
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Small-Town Hotel

Farm Corner - April 7, 1958

by Joe F. Combs


The writer recalls his first experience at one of the small-town hotels. They charged a standard fee of one dollar per night with breakfast and supper thrown in for good measure. The table in the dining room was a long affair, upwards of 20 feet long. Guests sat around this table and ate in the old-fashioned country way. The food was served in large dishes and you took what you wanted, as often as desired.

If you wanted one meal, the charge was 25 cents, and it was a belt tightener too. The writer remembers his embarrassed feeling on his first trip to one of these long tables.

Having been raised by rather dignified grandparents, proud and intolerant of rudeness, I had acquired a bit of their feelings. On this occasion a big square-shouldered man from the backwoods sat across the table from me. I shall never forget his long black mustache which he stroked frequently with an air of pride.

This country-bred woodsman had been accustomed to biscuits as large as teacups, and when the waitress brought a plate full of the little biscuits served by the hotel, the large fellow said, "Do you call them things biscuits" Why, I take pills bigger than them." And with a swipe of his large calloused hand he raked off about eight of these little biscuits into his plate.

The waitress evidently the hotel owner's daughter, was noticeably offended, for she didn't like his rudeness, and furthermore there were only about three left on her plate for the other guests. She went out of the dining room, and in a few moments a little weazened city slicker, probably her father, came in slowly and walked to the big man, and stood silently, staring at him.

The big guy, between gulps said, "Got sumpen on yer mind podner?" The hotel owner hesitated a moment, grinned and replied, "Well, I thought so, but I have changed my mind." With this he walked away, and more of the pill-sized biscuits were brought in.

After being almost drawn into the ruckus, through a desire to aid in perpetuating the old-time southern chivalry and the backing down of the weazened father, I was fortunate to escape with my hide.

That big fisted giant from the backwoods broke me from patronizing the highfalutin' city eating places. Sardines and crackers served on the counter in the rear of grocery stores were my fare on other shopping trips. Ever since that day, a cold chill runs up and down my spine when I see a guy with black handlebar mustache.



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