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Bum's on Greasy Corner-Hot Dogs at the Brunswick and a Lesson in Compassion

Updated on September 10, 2016

They Weren't Bad People

When I was a young boy my dad would let me ride into our "big city" and most all the time he parked his truck in the gravel lot just above Walker's Hardware. The Western Auto was just a hop skip and jump up the street. Dad would sometimes take me into the Brunswick Cafe for a special treat. Hot Dogs that were out of this wold and a fountain Coke to wash it down. I have saved those wrappers the hot dogs were served in for days just to smell the aroma of the chili and onions. They sure tasted good and the Coca-cola always made burp. I learned right quick to open my mouth when I felt one coming on because the gases in the soda made my nose burn so bad and my eyes watered as if I had just had a switching.

The corner of that street was called by the locals "Greasy Corner" and one prominent old timer and historian, Frank L. Fitzsimmons, who wrote many stories and tales about Henderson County in three volumes "From the Banks of the Oklawaha" told that men would sit on the street benches before the streets were paved on Main Street to watch the ladies cross over to the County Court House. According to Mr. Fizsimmons, the ladies wore longer dresses during those times and the men though maybe somewhat perverted,with wistful eyes and Mona Lisa smiles, relished the thoughts of catching the glimpse of pretty ankles of the ladies as their dresses and skirts were lifted ever so slightly to avoid the mud puddles that often filled the street and ruining a clean garment.

On those trips into town we often were greeted by some whom respectable pious,self righteous pillars of the community thought were of a lower class of humanity. These were men who had an alcohol addiction and they hung out on "Greasy Corner" begging money from the foot traffic along Main Street. Dad knew most of the men by their first names and they would come up to him and ask,"Wilkie, can you spare me a dime." Dad most always reached into his overall pockets and pulled out a dime and gave it to the person who ask.

Once one of the men came up to daddy and ask,"Wilkie you got a match?" Dad always carried those big kitchen matches in his shirt pocket along with the Lucky Strikes he smoked. He gave the man a match and then the man ask,"Wilkie, you got a cigarette." I suppose he reasoned if daddy had a match , he must have some cigarettes too. On another occasion daddy didn't have a match or a cigarette and the man ask,"You got the price of one?"

I saw those men who were basically good men slowly disappear from Greasy Corner and our town. Old age and disease took had taken its toll on their lives. What always amazed me was the compassion my dad had for those who may have had some social vices that weren't considered acceptable. He always treated them kindly and as a friend in need.

We are all humans and we all need each other regardless of our social status.I have little patience with those who have "better than thou" attitude. Recently, I visited our local DSS and as I looked at the mass of people standing in lines seeking help in one form or another, I was reminded of a saying I heard once, 'We are all just beggars, showing another beggar where to find bread." The dimes daddy gave may have been just another dime to help buy a bottle of wine but then it may have been used for something needed like a loaf of bread or if enough dimes were accrued, a hot dog at the Brunswick.


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    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you kevin, those days of my childhood and the time spent with daddy are so precious. The example he set, I have tried to follow.

    • kevins blog52 profile image

      kevins blog52 5 years ago from southern Indiana

      Hello Fiddleman, Id shake your hand but modern technologies hasn't come up with that one yet,You must be proud of your dad, you know what they say evil can only prevail if good men stand and do nothing.When I see some one in a hard way I always remember the old saying its hard to judge,. till you walk in another man shoes. This was a great read it took me back to a time and place in my own childhood, I remember the gravel parking lots, and street corners, ours was called liers bench.I like your style If you don't mind I will follow you. voted you up and awesome.

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      diogenes thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Many looked upon cotton mill workers as "mill village trash" and dregs of society but it was my observation , at least in the village of Tuxedo, most were hard working folks who had high work ethics and moral standards. Many rose above their circumstance and life situations and would give their fellow man the shirt off their backs. The Bible even tells us the poor will always be among us. While there are those who use and abuse the system, I choose not to be critical or condemning. The system for aiding those in need is not perfect but then neither am I.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I get so annoyed when I read comments such as the above from Carl. Yes, Carl, but these exceptions prove the rule. We hear the same annoying refrain in Britain. That people on the dole are better off than those who have to work for a living; that the "Travellers" all have huge houses and a fortune stowed away in Ireland and don't need to live in travel trailers. In the main, it's sheer nonsense. The underprivileged lack education, have lower IQ's (in general; have come from broken, alcohol and other drugs dominated environments). People with good incomes or inherited money don't normally pretend to be poor; they live like their peers. Of course there is welfare fraud and the glaring exceptions, but most welfare recipients exist marginally and have unhappy and hopeless lived uness they can get a decent job (usually denied them for lack of skills).

      We just love to hate the poor, don't we!? Bob

    • profile image

      Carl Taylor 5 years ago

      One of those restaurants was operated by the Sonny Hudson family.