“I’ve been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere”
So I’m taking in a little piece of rural Americana yesterday. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to an auction. I used to go with my dad. My gramps, like many farm-dude old timers, found recreation in this pursuit. Along with many tools and pieces of junk, he bought a house at an auction (without previously discussing it with my granny, mind you).
Yesterday’s auction took place in an old, country church. It was beautiful and sad all at once. Populations drop and small churches close, a sorry fact.
As I stood in the throng, the sense of smell brought back memories: musty basement, old stuff and hog shit on boots. It had that weirdly pleasant aroma of an auction. Some wouldn’t understand how it smelled good, but then some wouldn’t understand the pleasure of a lambic. Then the audio: the rapidfire banter of an auctioneer practicing his craft over a mediocre sound system. Ah, memories!
I’m outfitting a restaurant, so have interest in kitchen equipment and anything else that might lend character. At the end of the day, I settle up. I’ve bought a gob-shite load of dishes for a fraction of their worth, as well as two ornate church pews. As we’re loading our goods into our trailer, I walk over to the two boxes of coffee cups.
How did they come to be in this church basement? When? I thoroughly appreciate this moment and again consider the unwelcome Fate of this small, old church. Like a fading beer brand, it will be torn down and vanish from the landscape.
Gone, but not forgotten, and with relics spread across the land. There are always memories of the great works that took place there, the potlucks, the weddings and the funerals. There will always be memories, too, of Hi Brau, and its kin. For me, I will have an odd, sentimental spot in my heart for Hamm’s; Red, White and Blue; and Olympia, as I remember my dad drinking those beers. For others, it’s Genesee Cream Ale. With the myriad of beers that cross the threshold of our home, it’s hard to imagine which ones might remind my boys of me.
Today, I think about old, country churches. I think about Belgian monks that brew. I think about the circumstances in which hog crap smells good. And I think about how, like Johnny Cash, beer’s been everywhere. Even in a church basement.