The Miss Oxford Diner has always had an American flag out front. It’s that kind of place.
Traditional. Very traditional.
The diner is one of the vanishing breed of restaurants that popped up all over our country as imitations of railroad dining cars. Swathed in shiny chrome and faded pink striped siding, it still has the original swivel bar stools and quilted stainless steel backsplash along with tableside juke boxes with Chubby Checkers songs still on the labels.
It’s traditional. http://www.oxforddiner.com/
So traditional that menu changes are not appreciated by the locals, who want their chipped beef and biscuit breakfast special to be served any time they are in the mood for it.
Don’t expect menu lite at this place, where meatloaf, mashed potatoes and cole slaw have been on the menu for as long as I remember, and my memory goes back a long way to when I was a twenty-two year old teacher at Oxford High School and a customer every Wednesday night for the Blue Plate Fried Oyster Special.
Yes, it’s traditional. It’s as American as apple pie. And so are the people who drop in to eat. Weary truckers wheel in for fried eggs, bacon and biscuits at all times of day and night. Locals pop in for corn chowder and cole slaw to catch up on the news. Hard working waitresses with tired, lined faces still call customers “Hon.”
People know each other at Miss Oxford. They have an invisible, intuitive grapvine that signals when they know you’re not from their part of the country. But they're not unfriendly, Just watchful and curious.
And they’re traditional. Very traditional.
My sister and I stopped in for lunch today. While we were waiting, we noted two American flag placards nailed to the walls inscribed, “God Bless America.”
I thought to myself, well, I guess these folk are the ones our president was talking about when he said there were a lot of bitter people who clung to their religion and guns. I thought about it a while. It made me sad.
My sister must have read my thoughts, for she gestured toward the flag pole outside. I looked, expecting to see the American flag that always had hung from it. But the flag with the stars and stripes was gone. In its place was a bright yellow flag with a coiled snake on it. Below, an inscription, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
My sister and I exchanged a meaningful gaze and I caught the look on our waitress’ face. She saw our looks and she was calmly smiling.
Well, I thought, what a significant change. The people who run Miss Oxford Diner and their customers didn’t miss the insults to them and Americans like them. And they have responded in their own way.
They weren’t at Miss Oxford Diner engaging in outraged political discourse. They were eating their meatloaf, mashed potatoes and cole slaw. They were scarfing down chipped beef, biscuits and gravy. But they had spoken nonetheless, and they were angry.
They are sending a message that will no doubt be heard from now to this coming November election and beyond:
“Don’t Tread on Me.”