If one noticed the exit off to the right of the highway and followed the short distance into the core of “downtown” Aumsville, one would find a town of mixed character: fine, newer construction set haphazardly among broken homes, their yards filled with the carcasses of old automobiles and the windblown yellow of overgrown grass. Walking or biking along the streets of town, one sees the scurrying teenage population wandering with the awkward poise and affected detachment that only junior high school can impress upon a person.
In some sense, the center of the town’s identity is anchored at the small, sparsely stocked grocery store at the center of town. Its parking lot is small and uneven, a few American-made cars and one or two expensive imports barely populate its fading yellow lines. Walking inside, the store is closer akin to a gas-and-convenience store than the one-stop grocery malls that provision our
The patrons themselves are a mixed lot, just like the homes that spread out from the grocery store like worker bees from the hive. Some are well-groomed soccer moms trailing children who eye greedily the candy bar and toy displays scattered about the store. Others are older residents of Aumsville, those who have sustained its economy for decades and who are not about to leave town to save a few dollars on milk. A few teens hang out at the magazine racks, flipping through People and Guitar; long, black-haired and pimple-faced boys steal glances at the glossy contents of the latest Maxim. Here and there, a
While the store maintains four or five checkout stands, one rarely sees more than two of them in operation, a cart or two waiting in line for a turn at the newly-installed debit card sliders or selecting a Scratch-It from the Plexiglas display. A corner of the store holds an equally small selection of VHS tapes and DVDs for rent. Most appear to be 80’s movies.
Nearer the edge of town, just beyond Aumsville’s claim to anything like an industrial area lies
In the distance, where