Gas station breakfast
I have been awakened by the smell of bacon frying in skillets of loved ones, and I have eaten hard biscuits on sterling silver platters in hotel lobbies. I have had brunch at trendy restaurants and have waited in line at one of the many pancake places in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I’ve made a quick run to the donut shop when the kids wanted a special treat and I have scrambled more eggs than I care to count.
We southerners love our breakfast foods; down here your affection for breakfast foods is a measure of how southern you actually are. There’s a lot of focus on grits, homemade biscuits, and various pieces of pork, but there’s one thing that often gets left out of the conversation, and that’s the gas station breakfast. It was basically what your grandmother made, with a hint of gasoline fumes for extra flavor.
I haven’t done the research to prove this, but I am confident it is a felony in the state of Alabama to go rabbit hunting without first eating breakfast cooked and served at a rural gas station. For the record, it is also illegal to go fishing without a Dr. Pepper in the boat, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Recently I drove by what used to be Highway 72 One Stop, where my Nana would pump gas and forget to pay, so they would just call my uncle to settle up later, and I was frightened by what I saw. The building was still there, and so was the sign, but it was clear that no one had had breakfast there in many years. Rust had overtaken the pumps like the kudzu that had wrapped its hands around the doors, and all that lingered on the shelves were memories of hunting trips long ago.
It worries me, the disappearance of such establishments. It’s hard to imagine generations of southerners not eating gas station breakfasts. Maybe I’ll hunt one down and take my kids before they’re all gone.