by Gary Torres
My too kind and loving wife and I are on vacation headed out to Nashville. I have stopped in Scott, AR, a town so small Monticello would seem like a sprawling metropolis in comparison.
First, I have to tell you that there is a Monticello connection; Eddie Boyle grew up in the area. Eddie has been gone now for 23 years, but he still has some impact in Monticello. I’m seeking insight.
I am going there in hunt of the award-winning “hubcap hamburger”, allegedly the best burger in America; even President Clinton frequented this out of the way place.
When I say out of the way, it is only 10 miles off of I-40, but clearly the town is 70 years back in time. When we drive by Cotham’s Mercantile, the award winning 101 year old Checker Auto Parts turned restaurant, a couple of hill-billies chewing on a piece of grass watch us as carefully as I might watch a snake crawl over my shoes. I am tempted to break out my guitar, which I brought with me, just to see if someone wants to play Dueling Banjos.
This could be a movie set for the 1972 movie Deliverance; I am sure that I can hear banjos twanging. The hair on my neck stands alert.
We drive slowly past the dilapidated old hardware store, and I assure my too kind and loving wife that can’t possibly be the place we are looking for. There is a goat pen with an assortment of other farm critters on the east side of the store, and it looks like a strong wind will blow the building over.
We go into the restaurant, which looks like a dusty-cobwebby Motor Parts with a few tables on one side and an assortment of hoses, fan belts, and other 1960ish automobile parts hanging on peg board.
As we go in and sit down, Daisy-Lou comes by to take our order of fried green tomatoes and the hubcap hamburger. Her t-shirt says, “Where the elite meet to eat.”
I expect to see President Clinton and Senator Dave Pryor walk through the door any second or perhaps for one of the banjo-boys to lock the door from the inside and turn with a demonic grin and ask us, “Where you goin’ city boy?”
We eat our food with the enthusiasm of a teenage boy after football practice. I can’t describe how good the food was, but if I ever go back that way, and I am not saying that I will, I think I would venture another brush with the dueling-banjo-boys to get one more chance to partake of the tastiest burger this cowboy has ever eaten.
The sheriff watches as we drive out of town; we don’t look back. No matter. My belly is full, and I am happy to have made it out of the back woods of Arkansas. I can almost hear Eddie in his smooth southern twang say, “You’all come back soon, ya hear!”