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  • Thursday Blue Plate Special: Leftover Tuna

    June 19, 2008

    Keeping Time in Tuna 


    100_4842a_2 I never hate Wal-Mart more than when I am in downtown Tuna.

    Across the country, small town Main Street has been decimated by the big hairy ape that is Wal-Mart and Tuna is no different. The old historic buildings that line Main Street, that once teemed with the life blood of the town — the Mom and Pop businesses — now stand as a silent, empty and decaying tribute to capitalism at it’s best, or worst, depending upon your point of view.

    One thing I really like about doing business on Main Street in downtown Tuna is that there is no one standing at the entrance of the store handing me a little yellow smiley face sticker if I come in with a bag. We all know what those smiley face stickers mean: We don’t trust you. In Tuna, trust is the currency and a handshake is your receipt.

    Awhile back, I had several watches (and by several I mean seven) that needed batteries replaced. What is more absurd than the fact that we have seven dead watches, is that neither Antique Daddy nor I even wear a watch most of the time, yet we feel that we need to have seven in working order in case there were to be some sort of wrist watch emergency.

    When I took my comatose watch collection to a local jeweler in the metroplex to have the batteries replaced, I was astonished by the degree to which they could over-promise and under-deliver a simple service. After several attempts and as many phone calls to get the jewelers to perform the requested service, I tired of their excuses. I finally retrieved the dead and dying watches and brought them home where they would be more comfortable and I could mourn them privately. I happened to mention this to George, my father-in-law, and he suggested that I bring them up to Tuna to the Main Street jeweler, whom he described as a “good ole’ Baptist boy.” So that’s what I did.

    When I walked into the Tuna Credit Jewelers, it was like stepping back into time 50 years. The hardwood floors creaked and dipped where countless feet had worn a path to the front counter over the course of more than 100 years. Behind the counter sat the owner, whose father and his father and his father before him had probably sat in the same cracked green leather chair. Most of the merchandise looked as though it had been there for at least that long.

    I told the man that George had sent me. “Oh, George, of course,” he said with almost no inflection. I explained to him that I had some watches that needed to have batteries replaced and I handed them over the counter to him. He peered at me over his bifocals, blinked a couple of times and then said, “Okay.” They say that a lot in Tuna and I like that.

    Then he asked me if I would like to wait. It was my turn to blink. I was thinking about the jewelers in the metroplex and how they kept my watches for a week and then another week and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to wait that long. Then I realized he meant wait, like for twenty minutes. I said, no I had to go see Floydine down at the bank and I would100_4851a_2 come back later. He nodded knowingly and again he said “Okay.” And then I waited for him to write me a receipt for my precious seven watches that I was entrusting to a complete stranger.

    We stared at each other for a few awkward seconds like a couple about to kiss for the first time. I stammered nervously and waved my hands in a gesture that made it appear as though I were waxing an invisible car.

     “Um, do you think, that maybe, I could have a receipt? For my. Um, you know. Seven. Uh. Watches? If it’s not…. toomuchtrouble.” He looked puzzled. Perhaps because all of a sudden English didn’t seem to be my first language.

    He quickly scribbled something on one of those generic pale green reciept pads, tore it off with great precision and handed it to me. I folded it twice and stuffed it into my pocket without even looking at it as a display of trust. I did not want to risk insulting the stranger now in possession of my seven stupid watches.

    As I headed down Main Street, I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and looked at it. On it was written “watches” punctuated with a little smiley face. I guess that’s about as official as a handshake and that’s good enough when doing business in Tuna.

    Originally published June 2006.

    20 Comments »

    1. Photochick (Amanda) says:

      Holy cow! I actually had to go check on this because I thought “There’s no way we’re THAT much alike…” But I too have 7 – yes SEVEN! – watches that need their batteries. OK, one is technically my husband’s. And I’m not sure if it’s getting a new battery or not since the band is also falling apart. But here I sit with my 6 watches that for sure are getting new batteries as soon as I can get to Hutchison’s Jewelry down in Boonville – yeah, that’s a real town name quite aptly named if you ask me, since it is out in the Boonies…

      Now here’s the part where I tell you I love you so much because no one else could make me feel that good about have 6 dead watch batteries. Watches that I NEVER WEAR, but Lord knows I need to (have I ever mentioned that I occasionally have issues with being on time? No? Well, I certainly do!) And yes, I am going to replace those batteries… probably twice before I actually end up weating one of the buggers again. And you’re not judging me one bit, are you! Gosh I love you AM!

      June 19th, 2008 at 1:58 am

    2. Jane says:

      I love this town!

      June 19th, 2008 at 2:15 am

    3. Fiddledeedee (It Coulda Been Worse) says:

      Tuna reminds me so much of Mineral Wells. I so miss that Texas small town feel.

      I will see you tomorrow, missy. Shalee has me plenty scared of you and your high jinx. 🙂

      June 19th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    4. happy Mommy says:

      Did you buy a new watch every time the batteries went dead? I really enjoy these Tuna stories!

      June 19th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    5. Sherilyn says:

      I have to agree that small town front streets generally have better service…. they have to or they wouldn’t have survived as long as many of them have.

      June 19th, 2008 at 8:27 am

    6. Johna says:

      I LIVE IN A TOWN LIKE TUNA, IT IS “CORYDON”, THE MAIN STREET SQUARE IS THE MEETING PLACE ON SATURDAY NIGHTS (WHERE THERE IS A WEEKLY JAMORBOREE – OH YES MA’AM!!).

      THE LITTLE SHOPS ARE PRECIOUS. ONE WOULD EXPECT TO SEE ANDY AND BARNEY SITTIN OUTSIDE THE JAILHOUSE AS THEY WALKED BY (SHOUT OUT TO MAYBERRY).

      WE DO HAVE A WALMART, SUPER-CENTER MIND YOU, BUT THE SHOPS ARE STILL PRETTY BUSY. YOU SHOULD HAVE A BLOG ENTRY WERE PEOPLE CAN SEND IN PHOTOS OF THEIR OWN PERSONAL “TUNA”. IT IS LIKE STEPPING BACK IN TIME, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY HAVE THEIR OWN THINGS LIKE THE 4TH OF JULY PARADE, AND GOSPELFEST ON THE SQUARE!!

      THANKS FOR SHARING.

      June 19th, 2008 at 8:32 am

    7. Jessica says:

      I thought I was bad carrying around three watches in my purse just in case I make it to the jewelers! Great post.

      June 19th, 2008 at 8:55 am

    8. Deanna says:

      What a great post! I look forward to ‘visiting’ with you daily! Enjoy your day!

      June 19th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    9. apathy lounge says:

      It’s that way in Hico, too. And Dublin, Texas where I used to go to the Chigger Ranch Convenience Store to get my original formula Dr. Pepper. Before they closed. I’m sure Wal-Mart’s behind that, too.

      June 19th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    10. Erin says:

      This is lovely. Your time in Tuna and your writing of it.

      June 19th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    11. Baby Girl Names says:

      what i like the most about Tuna is , that everybody keeps flower in front of the doors,and it’s very clean

      June 19th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    12. Natalie at Casa in TX says:

      This spring, in order to keep on schedule with the kids I started wearing a watch again – pulling my phone out of my purse all the time to check the time was bugging me. I forget to put things on in the morning so I just leave it on all the time. Paul likes to play with the Indiglo button in the dark.

      Oh, and evidently I’m NOT smarter than a computer 5th grader!

      June 19th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    13. julie says:

      Looks like a place I would like to live! What a great place!

      June 19th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    14. Jill says:

      While I realize there are so many deals to be had, this post completely sums up why I don’t shop at Walmart. I am the only person I know who doesn’t, but I am holding firm.

      June 19th, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    15. Nikki says:

      Precious….

      If only these small, personal shops could withstand the onslaught of big multi-chain stores!

      June 19th, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    16. Kacey says:

      I, too, have about seven watches and wait until the last one flutters to a stop before going for new batteries. We don’t have a Tuna here in Ohio and the kiosks in the mall charge an arm and a leg for a battery. So, I take them to Ft. Myers in the fall and the little old jeweler there replaces the batteries for a reasonable price. One is a $5.00 watch that ways “Truth, Knowledge and New Clothes”. I got it at Hudson’s at back to school sale many years ago…. so many years that the store has changed from Hudson’s fo Marshall-Fields and now to Macy’s, but the watch still runs if you give it a new battery.

      June 20th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    17. Jen says:

      Great post! This sounds exactly like my hometown. I used to think it was so wonderful how the Wal-Mart greeters made it a point to say, “Hello”. Then, one day it came to me that they weren’t being friendly…this was a shoplifting prevention tactic. By greeting and making eye contact with each customer as he/she enters, they now know that they’ve been seen by a Wal-Mart employee, reducing their anonymity. They could be identified later.

      June 20th, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    18. Sarah (Genesis Moments) says:

      How fun! I love small towns. Great to meet you at SheSpeaks! Hope your travels home went well.

      Take care.

      June 22nd, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    19. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

      Oh, girl, that was such a good one. No wonder it was published. We have a jewelry store just like that in the small town where I live, and I swear, I take my stupid watches (more than one at a time) to them. Thank you.~~Dee

      June 23rd, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    20. CurtissAnn says:

      What a wonderful story! Gives me a smile, and I nod. There is a wonderful jewelry story in the small town that I frequent (we’re so far rural that we don’t have a small town) that is just the same. The jeweler is an elderly woman. Wears the jewelers eyepiece all the time. They have fixed my wedding rings twice. I make a point of using them for as much as possible.

      CurtissAnn

      June 23rd, 2008 at 8:03 pm

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