Honestly, it's pretty rude of Shepherd's to close for remodeling.

by Charles Gerian

First, we lost Taco Mayo.

Then Hubbard Road.

After that, C-Mart closed.

Then Hubbard Road closed again.

Then Braum’s burned down.

Then, once again, Hubbard Road was taken from us.

Now, the City of Blackwell has had yet another hole torn in our hearts with the temporary closure of South Shepherd’s while the Blackwell location undergoes a remodeling to bring it into the “Shep’s Diner” concept that the company’s Doolin Avenue and Alva locations both have.

The weeks-long closure of Shepherd’s on South Main might not seem like much to anyone who lives north of Blackwell Avenue, but to those of us on the south side of town, losing Shepherd’s is...devastating, no matter for how long or short the remodel might last.

At the grand re-opening of Blackwell’s Walmart this spring, City Manager Jerry Wieland made the remark that our Walmart was more than just a national chain store- it was a social hub.

He was correct then, and I will add to that by stating Shepherd’s is just a “social hub” as Walmart.

For myself and hundreds of others, Shepherd’s is a routine morning stop.

From about 6 a.m. until 8, Shepherd’s is where you will see all walks of life coming in for their morning coffee, energy drinks, biscuits and gravy, breakfast pizzas, donuts, and sausage and egg sandwiches that are maddeningly wrapped in the most complicated cellophane ever introduced to mankind as well as snacks, newspapers, and so much more.

On average, I see no less than 4 or 5 people I know when I roll into that gas station at around 7:30 a.m. sharp to the point I can set my watch by other peoples’ work schedules.

Of course, Shepherd’s isn’t just a morning hot-spot for those on their way to work.

Around noon, you can go in for your “get me through the day” Alani or Rockstar and see people grabbing their crispitos, chicken strips, pizzas, and fountain drinks and see 6 or 7 other people you also know, making small-talk with the always friendly cashiers at the counter.

In the afternoon, those same people who were chugging coffee at the pot and grabbing their donuts can be seen getting their scratchers, their cases of beer, and the rest of their necessities for the night.

And when school is in session, myself and the countless others I see learn quickly when to go and when not to go. Especially around lunch when the parking lot might be suspiciously empty only for you to walk in and be in the middle of a mosh-pit with 40 high schoolers all poofing their perms and grabbing candy and Monster Energy drinks before beginning their migration back to the high school.

Shepherd’s is a social hub, make no mistake about that.

Anyone who went to high school in the mid-2000’s until now remembers that freedom of trespassing across peoples’ back yards and through alleyways to get to that gas station the minute that lunch bell rang.

The walk to Shepherd’s, that great trek, was where you showed off your outfit. It’s where you saw people get beat up. It’s where your friend bought three redbulls and chugged them all just because he could.

It’s where you wasted your parent’s hard-earned money on chicken strip dinners every single day only to gain like 30 pounds and then do Billy Blanks Tae-Bo workout in your room alone all summer to get in shape to fit into your Spider-Man costume for a convention that August.

(Okay maybe not everyone did that last part but the point still stands)

I was voicing my displeasure about the store being temporarily closed to someone last week and they had foolishly said:

“Well, just go to another gas station”.

Such a comically ignorant suggestion.

Gas stations in Blackwell are as territorial and specific as national borders are among conflicted countries.

COULD I simply drive to the Shepherd’s on Doolin to get my morning drink? Sure. Would I “fit in” there? No.

The northern folk have their Shepherd’s, and they recognize when you’re an outsider.

COULD I simply drive down to the Valero and get my drink there?

Also no, because the parking lot is a nightmare of people that don’t know how to drive compacted by the fact no one knows how to use a 4-way stop.

What about Casey’s?

Well, Casey’s in nice and their breakfast pizza slaps pretty hard, but that might as well be in Nardin for how far out of the way it is.

That’s not to say I won’t go to those places, but new things are scary and I hate change.

So, Shepherd’s as a concerned citizen I beg of you to please hurry up on remodeling your store because the myself and many others are stun-locked.

My entire day, the entire “mood” of my day, is thrown off balance now.

I’m missing it already. I know it’ll be worth it, but God please help me and others get through these next few weeks.