by David Cecelski
My favorite thing about Milton Tire Service and Grill in Milton, in CaswellCounty, is the stories. I stopped there today on my way back from taking my sister and nephew to Danville. A combination grill and automotive tire shop, it’s on Broad Street (US 62), just south of the Dan River and theVirginia line.
The grill is a cozy little place with 3 or 4 tables, a counter with maybe half a dozen stools, and a basset hound (“welcome dog,” they call him) out front. The place was full at lunch. It was all guys, some young, some old, and everybody knew everybody else’s name, except for me. It was like a rowdy town hall meeting. Everybody took part in one big conversation.
While I was eating, they covered a lot of ground: the time that Mack (I’ll call him) got kicked in the butt loading a cow onto a truck, like had almost happened to him again this morning; the philosophical correlation between a preference for strong coffee and a preference for strong women (referring, among others, alas, to me); the criminal nature of Jeb (I’ll call him), no matter what he says; and whether or not it is ethical to exhume a body if said corpse hadn’t paid his undertaker’s bill, and what, if one did dig up the fellow, you’d do with the body. That last one went on for a long time.
“They’re minding their manners because you’re here today,” said the lady who was doing the cooking.
She was making hot sandwiches, warming pots of pinto beans and chili, and ladling out bowls of homemade soup. She scoffed real loud every time that one of the guys said something that was just too wayward.
She was running the place by herself—the regular cook, Donna, was out. The grill is one of only two places to eat out in Milton. Between the tire shop and the (fabulous, I must say) Millie’s Pizza, which is cattycorner across the street, you won’t miss much that’s happening in Caswell County.
I had a hearty bowl of homemade vegetable-beef soup and a good cup of coffee. She didn’t charge me for the coffee because it was old, she said, but I couldn’t tell. I enjoyed the food, the hospitality, and most of all the stories. I had a nice visit with the welcome dog on my way back to my car, too.