Mister Roy Barton was church treasurer for more than twenty years. His financial reports to the board of the ComerUnitedMethodistChurch were simple and succinct. When called on he would say how much money had been received and how much had been spent. Then he would add, “Everything is alright.”

That was it. No detailed income and expenses statements. No balance sheet. No details. And the board would move on to the next item on the agenda.

I knew Mr. Roy in the mid-1970s. In his earlier life he made a living as a traveling dry goods salesman. By the time I came to know him he and his wife, Miss Lois, owned the Hub Store in downtown Comer, Georgia about twenty miles east of Athens.

The Hub Store was next door to Mr. Rudy Mann’s grocery and two doors down from Mr. Elmer McConnell’s hardware store which was next door to the small Blue Bell factory.

When I moved to Comer Mr. Roy was one of the first people I met. One of his duties as church treasurer was to write the preacher’s check every month so naturally I wanted to become acquainted with him as soon as possible.

On our first visit in June 1975 Mr. Roy offered me $2 and recommended his barber. My hair was a bit longer than his and I guess he was trying to help. I gratefully accepted his money but graciously refused the invitation to let his barber give me a haircut.

Mr. Roy and Miss Lois lived just a couple of blocks away from their store across the railroad tracks down toward the Methodist church. He was always at the store and she spent most of her time there also. I visited them regularly and enjoyed the many times we would sit in the back of the store and talk. They did not have any children but they were so kind to my two small children.

When my family was with me on my visits to the Hub Store, Miss Lois would always give Jason and Jennifer a nickel so they could go next door to Mr. Rudy’s grocery and buy candy. After their big purchase they would come back and she would give them a Coke- one of the old six-ounce bottles. As they drank their Coca-Cola and ate their candy she would try to wipe the sticky mess from their faces with a Kleenex tissue. That never did work very well.

The time I knew Mr. Roy was long before the days of home computers and much of the technology that everyone has now in their homes and businesses. He had an old cash register where he rang up the infrequent sale at his store but he did not have an adding machine. When someone bought something he would figure the cost on a little brown paper bag with a stub of a pencil. I can still hear him, “That’s $5.95. Add 5% tax. That’s 30 cents. 5+0 equals 5. 9+3 equals 12. Carry the 1. That total is $6.25.” As he spoke he calculated the transaction on that little paper bag.

Mr. Roy did not need to go through that long mathematical process to know what the customer owed him for the merchandise. But that was the way he did it. Every time.

Mr. Roy was smart although he did not have much formal education. He said one of the dumbest things that humans ever did was take perfectly good dirt and plant grass on it. He remembered the days when out in the country you swept your yard with an old brush broom. That was much easier (and he thought much smarter) than the expense and effort of maintaining a green grass lawn.

I remembered Mr. Roy recently on a hot humid August afternoon as I was cutting the grass and edging the lawn at my house. I think he was right.

Jamie Jenkins

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