Chuck's Motel

I think back to some of the more famous motels; The Bates Motel, The Roach Motel and the No-Tell Motel but none of them can live up to Chuck's Motel the Geezers found when riding from Memphis to Vicksburg. In planning our tour, I sort of measured off a comfortable Geezer distance on the map for each day and picked the town that fell closest to that. One of those days put us in Rolling Fork, Mississippi (probably named after a strange eating utensil) A quick check of <www.yellowpages.com> produced nothing so I called the police chief who told me that Rolling Fork certainly had a place to stay and rattled the phone number of Chuck's Motel from memory.

I dialed the number and a voice screamed, "Chuck's" so I could hear her over the juke box, banging pans and clashing dishes. I told her I'd like to reserve three rooms for a certain night and she yelled, "Let me see if I can find something to write on." When I asked the rates for the rooms, she hollered, "Chuck ain't here but I think it's twenty-five or thirty dollars." By this time I should have suspected that Chuck's was probably somewhat down scale from the Ritz Carlton but what the heck, this tour was supposed to be an adventure and a place like Chuck's would only add color to the trip. Anyway, it was the only place in town.

A couple miles outside Rolling Fork we spotted a roadside sign, "Chuck's Motel and Backhoe Service." In smaller print it listed his backhoe services, Septic Tank Service, Trenching and Grave Digging. As we were discussing Chuck's strange combination of businesses, we saw the next sign, "Chuck's Bail Bonds" and a bit further was "Chuck's RV and Trailer Park" followed by "Chuck's Restaurant and Drive-In." seems that in Rolling Fork, Chuck has something for everyone.

We rolled the three blocks through Rolling Fork and spotted out wives waiting in the van in front of Chuck's Restaurant and Drive-In, next door to Chuck's Auto Wrecking Yard which was next to Chuck's Tire Shop. The six unit motel was behind the restaurant and behind that was the RV and trailer park.

There were three booths along the wall, three tables with mismatched chairs in the middle and five or six stools along the counter that was just in front of the stove and deep-fryers. The walls were covered with various signs, one of them being, "Chuck's Sign Service" which answered the question as to why Chuck had so many signs.

"I have three rooms reserved," I shouted above the din. The lady pulled a cigar box from under the counter and handed me three keys with red plastic tabs. The keys had no numbers on them so I asked which rooms they were for.

"They are all the same" she replied, "but I wouldn't take rooms one or two because of the pop machine." I wondered about the significance of the pop machine but passed on that question and handed her $75 based on the lower figure I'd been given on the phone. She didn't question the amount, just put the money in a brown envelope marked "Motel RV Park" and slipped it under the drawer in the cash register. She didn't offer anything to register on so I assumed that Chuck's bookkeeping was a bit on the casual side. We noticed that the rooms were numbered; 1, 2, 4, 5, 6 & 7. I asked about that while we were having dinner that evening and was told that the hardware store was out of 3s when they bought the numbers.

The room was as clean as you could expect for twenty-five dollars but when I opened the curtains of the back window to check the view, it was the window of a trailer two feet away and a lady washing dishes at the sink. While I could get along without an exciting view, Joe had a different problem with their room, the toilet was stopped up. When he reported it to the lady behind the counter, she handed him a plunger. Then after he finished taking a shower, he found only one towel which had a corner torn out leaving something that looked like a map of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Fred was having his own difficulties when he found that the only light that would work in his room was the one in the bath room. He solved the problem by calling on his training as an electrical engineer and switched the bulb from the porch light to the table lamp.

We discovered the reason to avoid rooms one and two at daylight the next morning when about thirty kids from the trailer park congregated to have a screaming match and fight over whose money was in the pop machine while waiting for the school bus to arrive. Most of the screaming seemed to be the older kids telling the younger ones not to waste their lunch money on pop.

We never saw Chuck while we were there; guess he was involved in getting someone out of jail, painting signs or digging graves. He obviously wasn't busy doing repairs on his six-unit motel.

Margaret at Chuck's Joe at Chuck's
Margaret displays the only towel in their room, looks like a map of Oklahoma. Joe DiMonico became a plumber's helper when he told them his toilet was plugged; they handed him a plunger

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Copyright 2002 by Jim Foreman