I grew up in a small town and in a small town there are always those characters that make life interesting. In Winnsboro we had Jerry Peckham, who used to walk up and down Main street alternately singing and cussing people out who drove by. His only visible means of support were the odd jobs people would give him…If I remember correctly Stan Redding used to let him sweep up in front of Redding’s Store for pocket money. Then there were the Fulmer boys who drove bicycles with steering wheel type handle bars. We would most often see them riding their bikes east on Highway 11 going to their sister’s house. One time I asked my mother why those Fulmers were the way they were and she said, “It’s because they married their cousins back in Arkansas.”

So it hasn’t been that shocking to find characters in the tiny town I have moved to while I’m working on my PhD. There is the one woman who wears too tight clothes and has a bad red hair dye job who walks down washington street pushing a baby buggy with God knows what in it. But the best place to find true characters in Commerce seems to be the Dollar store across the street from my house. I went there Tuesday to buy coffee (they have the best priced coffee) and as I walked in there was a woman in a big blonde wig with a panama type hat on her head, skinny as a rail and too much eye shadow sitting in a plastic chair with her feet on a plastic ottoman in the checkout line. She was trying out the chairs before she committed to the $5 each charge for them. After having decided that they were in fact worth the price, she then proceeded to talk to the check out lady about a variety of topics. At first she talked about her neighbors dog who “Come up in my yard and now I have to feed the sonofabitch” By this time I had my blackberry out filming her. She then asked the checker, in a conspiratorial tone, “Are the restaurants in Commerce safe to eat in?” The checker said, yes, she thought most of them were…and this is when the checker made her mistake, she asked “Why?”
Wig lady said, in a very loud voice mind you, “Well, last time I ate at that Mescin (mexican) restaurant in Greenville I got the squirts something awful! I had to take my pants off outside my house and walk around my front yard nekkid as a jaybird!” she said. “Why I barely got to the front door of that restaurant before I was a squirting to beat the band.”
By this point I couldn’t keep from laughing a little bit and was just praying that it all was going to get on video because no one would believe it!
finally the lady loaded her chair, ottoman, dog food and assorted other dollar store finds in her buggy and shuffled out of the store. As I walked up to the checker I said, “Well she is a character.” The checker then said, “Yeah and she shoplifts. We have caught her a bunch of times stealing stuff but she still comes back like nothing has happened.” I asked, “Where does she put what she steals, under that wig?” The checker, without cracking a smile, said “No, her purse I believe.”
So I paid for my coffee and left. And unfortunately, my blackberry didn’t record the sound so all i have are grainy images of a woman in a wig talking about her bowels.
Welcome to East Texas

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