The Chicken Shack Inc., rural Indiana

We recently drove seven hours in the car, beginning early on Sunday morning and continuing through early afternoon, and at least half the trip was not on the Interstate. It still astounds me, being from the overpopulated northeast, that there are parts of the country where both the most direct way and the quickest way, even according to Google maps, from point A to point B is not on a highway.

So we found ourselves driving through rural America, wandering through small towns, driving along railroads, wondering about paper factories and old brick “infirmaries” as they slowly passed by at 35 miles per hour. Okay, some places got up to 55 mph. Because I’ve got community on the brain, and because I was reading a Wendell Berry essay out loud to J as we drove along (yes, we’re nerds), we talked about everything we saw in terms of community and what would make a good blog post.

We guiltily passed by church after church as congregants flowed in through the curb-side front doors of white square church buildings, and parking lots got more and more full (until noon, when they started getting emptier and emptier). Later we passed a “God loves you whether you like it or not” sign outside a church. Very hospitable.

The highlights of the morning were passing “Adam’s Rib BBQ” restaurant in rural Ohio, a “Daisy Duke and Cowboy Boot Friday” theme at a restaurant with a large–very large–woman in waitress garb outside (let’s hope she doesn’t wear Daisy Dukes on Fridays), and the official “highest point in Indiana” when there were no hills within sight.

We knew we wanted to stop somewhere “local” for lunch on the way, and when we happened upon The Chicken Shack, Inc., we knew it was the place for us. The sign on the door said they opened at 10:45 every day. That seemed oddly precise to me, but then we stepped inside, lowering the median age of the customers by about fifty years, and the precision of the opening time made sense.

We were slightly gaped at on the way in and during visits to the restrooms, not only because of our age I imagine but because we towered over just about everyone there. (We are tall people under ordinary circumstances, and these were not ordinary demographics we were dealing with.) Luckily, we didn’t order the fried chicken buffet like most people, so we didn’t have to stand shoulder-to-waist with anyone, and they could stare from a distance.

I ordered a BLT that was heavy on the “B” and quite light on the “L” and “T” (ironic since as a little girl I always used to remove the “B” and offer it to anyone else at the table) and instant mashed potatoes. J ordered a burger the size of his face (I took a picture, so we have proof of its enormity). The food was impressively cheap.

As more and more church folks came in, still mostly over 70, they all knew each other. I am not exaggerating when I say one large group of folks came in and greeted everyone else in our seating area. And they weren’t just being friendly, as far as I could tell, since they avoided greeting us, and we’re nice people. 🙂

So yes, we found ourselves smack in the middle of a fried chicken community in rural Indiana. Heavenly.

God bless America.


4 comments on “Off-the-Interstate

  1. Anna says:

    Show us the hamburger!

  2. Elizabeth's Dad says:

    Great story. I could smell the fried chicken! But I was caught by the sign on the church..whether you like it or not? I know someone was just trying to be cute but what do we as Christians really say to the world? WWJS?

    • elizabeth says:

      Yep. My “very hospitable” comment was charged with irony. J and I have often noted the wages-of-sin-is-death sort of signs that are supposedly “welcoming” people into churches, and it makes us sad. (We even saw one such sign on a church called “Friendly Baptist Church”!) Though Jesus did have harsh words for a particular demographic (namely, the church), they were not directed toward the lost, the orphan, the widow, the least of these (those to whom we should be extending our open arms). But I know you agree with me on this, so I’ll stop preaching to the choir.

      Spoken like a true Texan.

  3. gen says:

    oh, this is so funny! Daisy Dukes! LOL! Yes, definitely need to see that burger. David and I do the reading in the car too.

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