Mark Tucker : Journal

Portrait of James from the Belmont Bi-Rite.

Posted in Interesting People, Personal, Photographs, Random Image, The South by marktucker on October 30, 2010

I go to this old-timey grocery store on Belmont Boulevard, near my new house. I’m not sure why — they don’t really have the freshest produce, or most anything organic. I’m just drawn there. I go there and buy cooked meat, back in their deli. It’s one of the few last bastions of the Old South — beans, meat, and barbeque cooked daily. The floors are waxed clean and shiny, even though they’re very old. They only recently added the ability to pay with a credit card. It just feels like home.

When I was a kid, my family owned five small convenience stores in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ever since I was about twelve years old, I started bagging groceries and working in those markets. Worked in them all the way through high school and college. I can stock a shelf with the best of them. I can clean a milk cooler. I can run a register and make change quickly. It was useful to learn how to talk to strangers, when I was a dorky, stoner, redneck kid. It sorta socialized me. It’s helped in my adult life, as a photographer.

Anyway, I go into this grocery, and I always see the night manager there. His name is James. He’s about 6’2″, but he seems about seven feet tall, because he’s so thin. He’s always running around at a hundred miles an hour, stocking shelves, and running the place. He always is fitted with his ball point pens, a nametag, and most of the time with one of those back supports, like those Home Depot guys wear. He said he has a problem with his back. So here is James — he is just so awesome to me. He is America. He seems like a guy that could be in a Mayberry RFD episode, along with Otis and Barney and Andy.

James, in the Meat Section of the Belmont Blvd Bi-Rite Grocery. Click/enlarge.

3 Responses

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  1. thepeeryhouse said, on October 30, 2010 at 9:42 am

    this could easily have been taken at our home town store! :) love it

  2. elliot said, on October 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Sugar, fat, carbs, red meat and fire: looks like America to me too.

  3. Laurel said, on December 1, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Mark, I found your site through i+w and I love your work.
    I live in the 12South/Belmont district also, and there is no doubt that James and Bi-Rite are a dying breed…like you, i shop there though they don’t have the best prices or freshest anything, but there’s something just “right” about it..and I adore the character it brings to our neighborhood.

    thanks for your work!


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