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November 3, 1998

In a small southern town you don't miss much, but I had drove through town a number of times before I noticed that the small Rexall Drug store was closed.

It was an old one. Inside a still functioning soda fountain, which reminded me of the sit-ins of the civil rights movement in the late 1950's. Coca-Cola paraphernalia littered the walls, a reminder of a time when a functioning Coke bottling plant had provided employment for a significant number in town.

There was no sign thanking anyone for the number of years that the people of the town had supported the place, in a way that litters the other closed businesses in town. A simple hand scrawled message told the loyal customer that their prescriptions had been transferred to the new larger Eckerd Drug recently opened just outside of the downtown district.

Across the street the Herb store seems to be flourishing. I noticed new signs in their windows advertising the latest herb that will help you lose weight while you sleep.

I can imagine being in this town at the turn of the last century. I'm sure the medicine shows with charlatan's riding into town promised the latest cure-all and then promptly got out of town before anyone had a chance to test the veracity of their claims. I imagine an unenlightened age when people had answers for everything. Everything was black and white. The old soda fountain was a reminder of that. Blacks belonged in one place, whites in another.

The medicine show now occupies a legit place on Main Street; the soda fountain is closed.

On my way to this latest revelation, a tree that occupies a place midway on the driveway is shedding a multitude of very green shiny leaves. I remember the same tree doing this last year. The leaves fall in a steady remarkable rate, glittering as they do. It's very nice.

The falling leaves speak of change. Summer giving way to winter. The closing of the Rexall Drug store speaks of a changing America. A change for what is anyone's guess.


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