The corner grocery is fast becoming a part of Americana -- giving way to large chain markets. Those that remain have a special place in my heart because there are days when I need a place to find solace, have a conversation about the weather and buy a single cigar as opposed to a package of six.

And so I often find such comfort at Allegood's Grocery, just around the corner from my house.

Now I understand the purpose of large chain stores and where they fit in our world of mass marketing. But sometimes I need things to slow down a bit.

I remember those days at the old Suwanee Store in Cairo when the drink box was an exciting place and event. It was just a large metal cooler with small icebergs floating in it. You had to fish around in it to find the drink you wanted. As a youngster, that drink box was somewhat magical . I was always in search of an Orange Crush in a brown bottle or a Buffalo Rock.

Of course they don't have sawdust floors in the meat market any more at Allegood's. But at Allegood's, I can still buy a half pound of spicy souse meat which fits really well with saltine crackers covered in Louisiana Hot Sauce.

I was watching a football game recently, and I realized at a given moment that I was probably the only person in the entire world who was watching this football game and eating souse meat and saltines. I'm sure there were lots of people eating chips and dip but not souse meat. I felt really significant in the cosmos at that moment.

For those who don't know about souse meat, it's what's left over from the hog that didn't go into sausage. It's nickname is "hogshead cheese."

A fellow once called me and asked me if I was talking about SPAM when I referred to "souse meat." I explained to him the difference, and I drew an analogy with the art world. I told him that making good souse meat is an art and in the art world, souse meat would be a Picasso. On the other hand, SPAM would be a velvet Elvis or worse, coloring by the numbers.

Just recently, Allegood's started selling Sun Drop Cola. That's also a throwback to yesteryear. Someone has started bottling this soft drink again, and it's still in a green bottle with a little different design.

And you can get an Orange Crush there, just not in the vintage brown bottle.

I don't smoke cigars. I just chew them. And for chewing you need one with a leaf wrapper, not a paper wrapper. And I can get one at Allegood's. Sometimes it will last me a couple of days if my wife doesn't find it. And you don't have to buy a whole pack, you can just buy one. They are made in Honduras and they are not really expensive if you compare it to a Cuban, which by the way you can't buy legally in the United States. Making Cuban cigars illegal is our way of telling Fidel Castro that his tyranny doesn't set well with us. For other tyrannies in other parts of the world, we bomb them back (or forward) into the stone age. Maybe if they had manufactured cigars, we would have dealt differently with them.

At Allegood's you can buy a quart of excellent barbecue and have a lot of conversation at no extra charge. Recently we discussed growing okra and who makes the best cane syrup around these parts. I realize that none of these subjects are ever discussed on "Meet the Press" or "Face the Nation."

And by the way, I have never eaten souse while watching "Meet the Press" or "Face the Nation." It's too special for that. I refer to the Book of Ecclesiastes where we are reminded that there is a time and place for every purpose under heaven, and although souse meat is not mentioned, I think it is implied.

I don't know how long Allegood's has been in Moultrie, but it was here when I moved here many years ago, and I would hope that it will still be here when I'm sprouting daisies -- or nutgrass, as some might suppose.

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