Jot ‘um Down Store in Oplin,
Conducted by Gerald Massey
Photos Courtesy Gerald Massey
gem was discovered recently by Gerald
“Icebreaker” Massey on a recent run from Shreveport, Louisiana to Ft.
The Jot ‘um Down Store could easily pass for a movie
location – and with the crowd control problem out of the picture – it may yet
become the set on some future project. Tender Lions or Second-hand Mercies. Now
that Robert Duval has announced his retirement, he may want to come to his favorite
state, just to sit on the porch here and whittle Mesquite clothespins.
fairy-tale emporium has all of the once-mandatory accessories (newspaper rack,
ice bin, Coke machine and elevated but un-level porch). The only thing missing
is a hound under the porch – or a cat blocking the door. But the presence of a
root / storm shelter nearly makes up for animal absence.
| Gerald entered the
store and found Vera Owens, proprietress, sitting beside the register facing the
door – ready to fire up the grill at a moment’s notice. After taking a few interior
shots to see if it’s utilitarian charm matched the exterior (it did), Gerald asked
Vera a few questions.|
Unfortunately, the digital recorder didn’t work and
Gerald was forced to call Ms. Owens after he returned home for a telephone interview,
asking many of the questions twice. Therefore, we thank Vera twice for her patience
and for sharing the story of the Jot ‘um Down Store with our readers.
|The Interview |
Owens, store owner, widow and mother of three daughters.
(Mr. Owens passed
away three years ago in November of 2007.)
GM: Where were you born?
Owens: Clyde Texas, but I lived in California for 26-years and worked there
in a Borax plant. (Clyde is 21 miles north of Oplin.)
did you come to own the Jot ‘um Down Store?
Ms. Owens: “My husband
delivered water here and the previous owner asked him if he wanted to buy it.
We hemmed and hawed but bought it in 1983 or 84.”
sort of traffic do you get here?
Ms. Owens: “Don’t get very much
GM: Do you have a special recipe for your hamburgers?
Ms. Owens: “No, I toast the buns and I use lettuce and tomato, onions and
pickles, salt and pepper.”
GM: Any other recipies?
“Yes, but I don’t tell nobody.”
GM: What’s the nicest thing anyone
ever said about your cooking?
Ms. Owens: “That it was the best hamburger
they ever ate.”
GM: How did you meet your husband and where did
you go on your honeymoon?
Ms. Owens: “I met him on a frog hunt. We
didn’t go on a honeymoon. They didn’t have honeymoons back when we were married.”
GM: Where would you live if you didn’t live in Texas?
Owens: “Probably Washington State.”
GM: What do you keep in
the storm cellar outside?
Ms. Owens: “Nothing now, but we used to keep
carrots and peaches in case we had a storm.”
GM: Do you have a
particular memory of a Texas trip?
Ms. Owens: “We once went to Salt
Lake City, Utah. We got stuck out there on the Great Salt Lake flats. We didn’t
know what those potholes were, but we soon found out. We sat there a little bit
and we sank. We liked to have never got out of there.”
GM: Do you
have any advice for people in their 20s?
Ms. Owens: “Live your lives
the fullest, enjoy yourselves, go to church, and give your heart and life to God.”
Cellar (left of photo)|
Photo courtesy Gerald
Massey, June 2010