My infatuation with Stuckey's began in 1993 when I bought the PC game Sam & Max Hit the Road, in which a dog-and-rabbit detective team takes a roadtrip across America in pursuit of Bruno the Bigfoot, a missing sideshow carnival attraction. Along the way, the Freelance Police stop at various 'Snuckey's' restaurants to pick up useful items for their quest. The locations include Snuckey's franchises in Michigan, New Mexico, and Louisiana. I was delighted at the last location, because my family lived in Louisiana at the time, and just by coincidence, there was a Stuckey's not more than 7 miles up the highway from us.|
In my junior year of high school, I befriended Kelly Kime, a pretty brunette who sat behind me in Environmental Science. I always chatted with her before class commenced, the two of us often snacking on Kit-Kat bars or some other type of candy while discussing just about everything. Kelly had a great smile with an easy sense of humor, and I always tried to crack her up because I enjoyed seeing the sparkle of warmth in her eyes whenever she laughed.
One day I discovered that she worked at the local Stuckey's, and I told her about the Sam & Max parody, quoting the relevant dialogue verbatim, which she enjoyed with a grain of salt. Later, I would often tease her about working at 'Snuckey's' ("You're awfully cheery for a minimum-wage earner."), and she delighted in reminding me that she, at least, had a job, while I did not. Our camraderie was short-lived, however. Kelly died in a car accident a few months later, but I never forgot her.
Several years later (1998), I was playing Sam & Max, and feeling nostalgic. I convinced my brother to drive me out to the Stuckey's where Kelly worked so that I could purchase a logo tee shirt in remembrance of her. At the conclusion of the bittersweet ride, I bounded eagerly from the car only to find the blue-and-white building closed. It was a Sunday, but we thought it odd, since travel stations almost never closed on weekends. Doug noted that the grass was tall and uncut, and there were weeds sprouting up through cracks in the parking lot. Peering in the windows, I saw a fully-stocked store, brimming with merchandise. But it was abandoned.
I went away heartbroken, lamenting that I had never thought to visit it on a weekend when Kelly might have been working. I imagined how nice it would have been to hang out at Stuckey's and chat with her for awhile. But I knew that my memories of Kelly would be inextricably linked with the cheerful blue-roofed barn forever.
In 2005, I wrote Adolescence, a NewsRadio story that fictionalized my high school friendship with Kelly, and finally realized my longtime dream of visiting her at Stuckey's.
Since the inception of this website, I longed for pictures of the place where it all began for me. When I recently learned that my brother was taking a summer roadtrip back to Louisiana to visit some old high school friends, I urged him to stop by the abandoned Stuckey's on I-20 outside of Minden. He returned with images that could not have been more perfect if I had shot them myself. He also brought an unexpected gift that left a lump of emotion in my throat.
Directly across the Interstate from the old store lies a modern travel plaza with a Stuckey's Express inside. Doug bought me a souvenir Louisiana state spoon in pewter, featuring a pelican, an alligator, and a crawfish embossed on the state seal, with a handle wrapped in magnolia flowers. It is the exact gift that I might have purchased from Kelly all those years ago, and it will remain as close to my heart as she is. -Dale