When Miranda Lambert sang the words to her song “Automatic”, she was singing about life back in simpler times. Simpler times that really were not that long ago. She was singing about what it was like to live in a small town where life was still slow. She was singing about new inventions that were not always in her hometown. I know that simpler time and I know that town…Lindale, Texas.
Miranda grew up in Lindale and still has family there. Many of her songs relate back to her life in East Texas. I grew up in Longview, TX…about 40 miles east of Lindale. Our farm is located not too far away from Miranda’s hometown…a pretty area just now starting to grow. Once Walmart and Lowe’s and Chili’s came to town, that small town atmosphere started to disappear a little bit more everyday. However, drive out of town going northeast for two or three miles and you are back in the piney woods.
When we are at our farm, we often go to Lindale for lunch. Our favorite place is one of the original businesses…Petty’s Steak & Catfish…known for old fashioned home style cooking, perfectly made rolls and cornbread. There is a plate lunch that includes an entree, three vegetables, a dessert and tea or coffee. You most likely cannot find these kind of prices in Houston. I doubt that there is anything automatic at Petty’s.
Non-automatic menu at Petty’s Steak & Catfish…Lindale, Texas!
The waitresses all seem to have known the regular customers for years and the items that they normally order.
“Surely you want some sweet tea?”
“Chicken Fried Steak?
“Do you want cream gravy on both the steak and the mashed potatoes?”
“No gravy?! What’s wrong? Are you on that diet again?”
Some places…like Petty’s… are still holding on to parts of yesterday. Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic” laments no payphones, no drying laundry on the line as well as cassette tapes, Rand McNally maps, writing letters by hand, mailing the letters, shifting gears on an old truck and boys calling girls to ask them to go out. Not so long ago, it was not an automatic world at all.
As the refrain of the song says:
Hey, whatever happened to waitin’ your turn?
Doing it all by hand!
‘Cause when everything is handed to you
It’s only worth as much as the time put in.
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic.