Open for Business — From the Editor: Old friends are the best friends | CraigDailyPress.com

Open for Business — From the Editor: Old friends are the best friends

Jim Patterson

One of my earliest — and fondest — memories of growing up in the boondocks of South Arkansas is of pedaling my bicycle down the half-mile's worth of pot-holed, pock-marked asphalt that separated my family's home from Grissom's Grocery.

Grissom's sat at the shoulder of Highway 7 and was run — as you may have guessed — by Mr. and Mrs. Grissom and their two children, Eddie and Elaine. The Grissoms' home was built on to the back of the store and could be accessed via a door that stood behind the cash register. The door was always open, and I always felt a touch of voyeuristic shame whenever I'd accidentally catch a glimpse of some Grissom or another back there doing family stuff.

The store had been there for as long as I could remember, and though the construction seemed solid, the building itself always had kind of a leaning, off-kilter look to it, as though at some point it had been nudged to the side by a strong gust of wind and had never quite nudged itself back.

It had the old-fashioned gas pumps that "dinged" as each passing gallon rolled into the tank (I can still remember how much my Dad complained when gas went up to 40 cents a gallon) and inside, the floors were made of tongue-in-groove planks that had been darkened by decades of shoe soles and groaned piteously whenever anyone walked on them.

Tucked into a corner at the back of the store was a soda box, where any kid with 15 cents in his or her pocket could lay claim to a 6 1/2-ounce bottle of the coldest, best-tasting Coca-Cola ever to pass human lips. This was also the corner where an ancient gas heater sputtered and flamed throughout the winter months, warming the bones of the old-timers who gathered there daily to drink coffee and chew over the latest fat.

You may wonder why I'm telling you this story of a place I doubt any of you have ever seen because it was a mainstay, an anchor, a reassuring slice of constancy which — coupled with the Baptist church that sat just across the highway — grounded us to our roots and bound us together as a community.

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I'm sure many of you have similar memories of some business or institution that seems always to have been there. And that's what this section is all about: the mainstays, the anchors, the businesses that have stood the test of time and, in so doing, have cemented their place into the culture of Craig and Moffat County.

We live in a fast world these days, a world in which anyone with a computer and an internet connection can buy anything he or she wants or needs and have it delivered straight to the front door, all without ever leaving the comfort of a favorite easy chair.

And while that's not an altogether bad thing, it should never replace our standbys, our mainstays, the businesses and institutions that have been here since before many of us were here.

So, in this new special section — Open for Business — we salute local businesses that have been in operation for 25 years or more.

You have stood the test of time during times that often seem to change far too quickly, and we offer you our gratitude for helping cement our legacy as a community.

You are old friends — the best friends. Through you, we can connect to our shared past, and with you, we hope to step into our common future.

Jim Patterson is editor of the Craig Press.