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My summers as a kid were spent at my grandmother's package store between Fagus, Mo., and a very dry Clay County, Ark. Now, for those souls who don't know, a "package" store is simply a nice way of saying "liquor" store, as folks would carry off plain brown paper bags concealing their beverages of choice.

My mama didn't approve of her mother's entrepreneurial quest, but after a third divorce, Gram decided she had to find a way to make a living on her own with an eighth-grade education in the middle of nowhere. Although she didn't drink, she knew the farmers did, so she built a small cinder-block building with a drive-through situated so farmers could swing in and get a cold one without even having to get off their tractors.

Gram's land sat in the middle of rice fields on a dirt road right on the state line. The store was located in the southwest corner of the rectangular tract, with the house in the center and the well house toward the north. Large old oak trees -- the only ones for miles around -- dotted her land and shaded the little white house. Amidst those fields in the early 1980s, Ruby's Package Store was born.

Gram had ways that were equally fascinating and alarming to my young self. She drove a truck, was a tough negotiator with the beer distributers, liked listening to the police scanner and was a sure shot with a pistol. She also carefully set her auburn hair in curlers, donned bright red nail polish and lipstick, and never missed her "stories." She'd turn on the 13-inch color television set and watch "The Young & the Restless," "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light" with such devotion that customers knew to keep their conversations brief during certain time periods. I usually watched the shows with her when I wasn't ferrying items between the house and the store, playing with puppies or building a fort with the beer cases in the storage room.

When the sun went down and our chores were done, she'd draw a very shallow bath in the old tub and tell me to hop in and get the day off. I breathed deeply the smell of her heavily scented soap as I lathered. She'd say, "Now, hun, we ladies wash as far as possible, then we wash possible," teaching me to wash everything else before getting to nether regions. So all my life, I heard the word "possible" as a discreet reference for one's derriere.

Fast forward 30-some odd years as I recently walked into a meeting with the Rogers city attorney. As I grabbed the glass door to city hall, I stared at a lovely logo which read "Rogers, Arkansas: Where Possible Lives."

My reflection in the glass revealed I was going to have a hard time keeping a straight face in this meeting. I could almost see Gram standing there beside me, eyes wide before bursting into laughter.

She'd probably say the claim was brilliant, if not a bit far-reaching.

NAN Our Town on 10/20/2016

Print Headline: Where possible lives

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