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I have a weakness for old stores. I can't pass one without stopping. I have stopped in Fort Adams, Pond, Red Lick, Pocahontas and Arm Mississippi. When I saw Pauline's Grocery, I stopped in Foxworth.

My love affair for this disappearing institution began in Loyd Star. As a child, I spent most of my waking hours at "The Store", the name that was given to the place where my uncle's family lived and worked.In awe, I watched him slice and wrap bologna and lunch meat and sell sardines and crackers to pulpwood haulers. Later I found every excuse to stop by Pistol Sasser's in Bogue Chitto. His old drink box kept drinks so cold that they would smoke when you opened them.

Genuine country stores have a number of things in common: hoop cheese, glass cookie jars, rat traps, and kerosene.The screen often bear an inscription that reads "Colonial is Good Bread." I shy away from stores that are made out of concrete blocks or brick,have fluorescent lights and heat-em-up sandwiches that are prewrapped in cellophane.

Pauline's Grocery is genuine and has been for over eighty years. It has survived tornadoes, summer droughts, and spring floods. It is located at the junction of Highway 586 and Highway 587 setting parallel to the GM&0 Railroad track.

Pauline Fortenberry, the present owner, said that it had been in her family for over seventy-five years. Except for fresh paint, the inside has changed very little. Beaded board walls, slick wooden floors, and lights that hang on cords from the ceiling, all add to the atmosphere. The store still carries a basic line of staple items and a variety of canned goods. The shelves are old but the drink boxes are new.

What makes Pauline's is found in the back. There you will find a small counter and four swivel stools. The best hamburgers that you have ever tasted are served from 5:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night. Pauline Fortenberry, Helen Stringer, and Virgie Duckworth, all widow ladies, have been serving burgers in that spot for over thirty years. Their hamburgers have the taste that all fast food chains have tried to capture. It is down-home, wipe the corners of your mouth,good eating,and you never order less than two.

I don't know if the secret of the taste lies in the fact that the burgers are cooked on an old black stove, one at a time, or if it is the blend of pork and beef pattie. Pauline,Helen, and Virgie press ,flip,smear, and stack solid perfection. When I ask Mrs. Fortenberry if they had sold a lot of them,she responded, "I should say so. We have sold a 'men-u-ah-one over that counter.

If old stores and friendly people appeal to you and if you have a craving for the best hamburger that you can imagine,then stop by Pauline's, but don't eat breakfast before you go.