You may have received this story previously. If so, please excuse the duplication.
Back When Gas Was 30¢ A Gallon
Peter S. Shenkin
Back when gas was 30¢ a gallon,
And love was only 60¢ away
Thus sang Tom T. Hall. I can’t say this story is exactly about that, but it took place exactly about then.
Mise en scène: Grant’s Tavern, Blairsville Precinct, Williamson County, (Southern) Illinois.
Ole Grant kept an overcoat hanging on a hook behind the door in all seasons. If there was trouble, he'd put it on. Everyone knew there was a revolver in the pocket. Or at least, everyone believed it, which was enough.
He had live country bands Friday and Saturday nights. He had a bowling machine, pinball, a few other games and a juke box. He had a bar, a roomy dance floor stocked with country honeys and live country music on the weekends, tables on an elevated platform at the back maybe 1/3 the size of the dance floor. The platform, that is.
One Saturday evening, 1969, I took a bunch of my hippie friends there. Including Alberto Navarro from Bogota and Mike Bartlett, a computer nerd who raced small cars. Both now deceased, which I am sorrier than you can imagine to have to say. Ron Manning and Peter Munch (grandnephew of the artist Edvard Munch) as well. Probably John Harty. We had spent the day imbibing various licit and illicit substances in the beautiful countryside and perhaps had had lunch at Ma Hale's in Grand Tower, unless that was another day, but either way we thought Blairsville would be good for a night cap. They put a few tables together in the back for us and the waitress got busy with other customers.
Alberto got annoyed at the lack of attention. He jumped up on a chair and shouted if they didn't come and serve us pronto he was going to put LSD in the Blairsville water supply. The rest of us were looking around nervously and trying to calm him down, hoping that Ole Grant wouldn't resort to the overcoat.
Just then the waitress came over and called Alberto "Dear" and asked what she could get him. That calmed him down considerably, which calmed the rest of us down considerably. There was no way they could have understood Alberto's accent anyway (which he never lost till his dying day, though his command of the English language was better than mine).
Either way, they seemed to be used to this sort of thing, which was fine by us.