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Tucker: Gas prices, grits and small-town life

Posted: January 8, 2015 9:46 a.m.
Updated: January 9, 2015 1:00 a.m.



• If you’re old enough, try to recall this scene:

It’s 1965, you’re a teenager, and all is well with the world other than a small conflict in a faraway land called Viet Nam, a skirmish that our politicians tell us will be over before we know it.

You pull into the service station, where the attendant rushes out to wash your windshield, check your tire pressure and perhaps even vacuum your floor mats.

“A dollar’s worth,” you say with a smile, and indeed, that will provide plenty of riding-around time at the current fuel price of 31 cents a gallon.

Fast-forward a half century, and adjusted for inflation, the gasoline you’ll buy today is actually cheaper than it was back then -- and much cheaper than in 1979, when it popped the $1 mark and we figured the end of the world couldn’t be far away.

So pull in soon -- there’ll be no attendants this time, of course -- fill ‘er up and watch how slowly those electronic numbers climb. It’s a tough world we live in, but there’s still plenty to smile about when it comes to gasoline prices.

•  I notice two news items in close proximity to each other: (1) luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz is pulling the plug on its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, opting to move to Atlanta, and (2) grits is (are?) becoming a national food phenomenon, even in Northern states that have always turned up their noses at our southern specialty.

Hey, maybe those two developments have something to do with one another.

Of course, the shrimp-and-grits menu option has been turning up all over the country for several years now.  Even on the Maine island where Wife Nancy and I spend time, shrimp and grits is now a featured item in a restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean fare.

Go figure.

But listen: you can now buy a box of grits at the supermarket there in Maine -- plain grits, ready to cook, and certainly not the instant variety that any southerner worth his salt (and butter) would turn his nose up at, thank you very much, prepositional snobs.

That’s apparently happening elsewhere in the North, too. Don’t know whether it’s a result of changing migration patterns or Yankees just figuring out how smart we are.

And as for whether it’s “grits is” or “grits are,” language experts can’t seem to agree, and anyway, what the heck does it matter?  They’re just plain goo-o-o-oo-d.

• Most of us who live here in Kershaw  County obviously enjoy small-town life. Otherwise, we’d be living somewhere else.

But we’re in a growing minority. More and more people want the glamour and glitz of the big city, especially young people.

News reports indicate urban areas across the country are experiencing an upsurge as both employers and residents express a preference for the city. It’s primarily happening in mega-metro areas -- New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the like.

But small- and mid-size cities are also seeing upticks.

Across the country, cities are creating attractive downtown living areas, just as nearby Columbia and Charlotte are. By the way, of all cities with over half a million population, Charlotte is the second fastest-growing metropolis in the nation.

High-tech companies are leading the way. Firms like Uber and Twitter, say media reports, are increasingly headed to San Francisco rather than the nearby suburbs of Silicon Valley, which for decades was the breeding ground for such operations.

Suits me, but as far as I’m concerned, cities are great for visiting but lousy for living.



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