Bates House of Turkey

The trip I make to Alabama for a spring getaway to the beach with my sisters and Mom has been going for about four years now….but this year I did it differently. Usually my sister in Bham drives my Mom down to the beach, and I fly into Pensacola. Nice for me, but hard on her.
So this year, I did the “good sister” routine. I flew into Birmingham, and got my Mom ready for the trip (no easy thing, really…it wasn’t until I did it, that I realized my sisiter is a saint), and the next morning, Jan drove over, picked us up and off we went.
It’s a five hour trip to the coast, wildly dependant on how many times you stop and how long you stop. Jan has a kind of formula worked out with my Mother….who likes to stop, often. These stops are never easy, because she has trouble getting around and uses a walker. It’s a project, getting her and her gear out of the car, into a place, into the bathroom….oh, that’s really a project…..and out again.
We made two quick…pretty quick stops..as we left…a sausage and biscuit for Mom from Chick Filet, and Starbucks for me.
Now, even though I had bought her a cheddar biscuit from Edgars(a fabulous bakery and restaurant in Birmingham) the day before we left, that morning, she announced,”I don’t want that biscuit from Edgars…it’s too rich!” So Chick Filet it was….and seriously, I just have to have Starbucks in the morning. So two stops already.
About half way down, she likes a stop at Priester’s….for those of you who don’t know it, it’s a candy/bakery place, that sells lime cakes, blackberry wine cakes, divinity, pecan pralines, all kinds of salted nuts, brittles,…and every variety of kitsch. My Mother LOVES it. But it’s difficult stop, with tiny crowded aisles, but we usually do it.
However, on this trip, my sister and I are talking…a lot. Gossiping, my Mom says, but really we’re just…yakking. Jan will admit this is a problem, because when she talks and drives, her mind isn’t on where she’s going. So we unknowingly sail right past the exit for Priester’s. We’re flying along, and Jan says “uh-oh…I think we missed Priesters”. It’s miles back….and my Mother is like a disappointed little girl.
So we try to appease her with a stop to another candy store…and we do end up buying a leftover big red valentine heart, full of chocolate covered nuts. It’s half price! My Mom loves a bargain. “I only want nuts, no creams”, she announces suspiciously to the clerk, as if she would might try to slip a few chocolate covered creams on my Mom…..but really, it’s not the same as Priester’s. A poor facsimile.

This particular candy store is on the same stop as something that everyone asssures me is a landmark…Bates House of Turkey. Seriously, where else but Alabama would you find Bates House of Turkey? (It reminds me of another place I saw once in ‘bama…with a huge marquee that read,seriously, “Guns, Fireworks and Liquor”. What a lethal combo.) The name Bates House of Turkey is creepy but self-explanatory….and it is a sentimental favorite, as my Dad and Mom used to ALWAYS stop there on the way to the beach, for a sandwich. However, my Mom isn’t in the mood for turkey…not now anyway…she wanted Priester’s! So, we plow on.
Next on the highlight list…Foley, Alabama.
Foley is an actual town, but it’s real claim to fame is the Tanger Outlets….some good shopping there, let me assure you. But on this day, we have promised Mother a hamburger in Foley, and now, she does not trust our ability to make the stop. “We haven’t passed Foley, have we?”,asks Mom, her voice dripping wiith suspicion.
“No Mom, we’re not there yet”, Jan assures her.
A few minutes later….”Is this Foley?”
“Not yet, but we’re close”
“You better not go through Foley without stopping”, my Mom is now almost militant about the stop in Foley, and we are almost weak with laughter…silent mirth, of course.
Finally an Arby’s roast beef sandwich is procured, in Foley, as promised. And so it goes…all the way to Gulf Shores. No divinity or pralines, but a roast beef sandwich offers a bit of cold comfort to a little old lady who wanted Priester’s, dammit! Is that so much to ask?

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