Stuck on Stuckey’s all these years later

Published 10:10 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Stuckey’s and Horne’s of my youth are like the hairs on my head today – not nearly as many as 45 years ago.

Being in a military family, I moved frequently in my boyhood days, mostly around the South. There was that one trip to Camp Pendleton (Semper Fi! Marines) between Los Angeles and San Diego. During those moves – and on trips to visit family members – we stopped at our share of Stuckey’s, and, to a lesser degree, Horne’s.

To my father, a Stuckey’s or a Horne’s was a place to gas up our white Ford station wagon.

To my mother, a Stuckey’s or Horne’s was a place to clean up three kids who managed to get rather messy doing nothing but sitting in the car č and annoying one another.

To me, a Stuckey’s or a Horne’s offered adventure.

Stuckey’s is famous for its pecan log rolls and other pecan goodies. When I was a tow-headed young’un, my concept of democracy was simple: I got my own pecan log roll, as did my two sisters. No way does an 11-year-old boy want to share a pecan log roll with two sisters.

Most of the time, myself and the two sisters shared a pecan log roll. Years later, I realized that my mother didn’t want any child of hers to consume an entire pecan log roll at one time. Just imagine a child with a sugar rush cooped up in a car for at least 10 to 12 hours on the road.

Stuckey’s also had an array of toys in its gift shop. No matter where located, a Stuckey’s always had an inventory that included foot-long rubber alligators, tomahawks (rubber or wood blades, thank you) and  the iconic Confederate soldier’s cap made with a gray, felt-like material. I’m sure Stuckey’s had dolls and other such stuff for girls.

I recall eating at just a few Stuckey’s, but getting a hot dog from Stuckey’s was an exotic experience. Getting a hot dog anywhere but at home was an exotic experience. I seem to recall that ice cream at Stuckey’s was good, too.

With its distinctive rooflines and roof color scheme – an reddish-orange and yellow combination – a Stuckey’s could be spotted far in the distance, especially on interstate highways like I-75, I-85 and I-95.

The only remaining Horne’s I am aware of is located in Port Royal, Va., at the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and U.S. Highway 301. One used to be located in Fayetteville, right off U.S. 301, but I don’t believe it’s there these days.

Horne’s is fashioned after Stuckey’s. The founder of Horne’s was a candy salesman who sold his goods to the Stuckey’s chain, which parted ways with Mr. Horne when it decided to make its own candy.

All these mega mini-marts that dot the highways these days cannot come close to capturing the aura of a Stuckey’s or Horne’s. I’d rather spend five minutes in a Stuckey’s than an hour at one of those mega mini-marts.

The difference between a Stuckey’s and a mega mini-mart is like the difference between your grandmother’s fried chicken and the fried chicken sold at a supermarket deli.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. As for the ability to order Stuckey’s pecan log rolls online, that experience doesn’t come close to buying a pecan log roll – OK, five pecan log rolls – at a Stuckey’s at an interstate exit.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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