Gas, Grass, and Ass: Adventures in Rural America, 1973
Seeking a self-sustaining life outside the city and a new start for her marriage, this twenty-five-year old a woman boldly embarked on proprietorship of a full-service gas station along a highway in rural Arkansas. Her hope to live and work at her own place of business soon encountered not only the end of her marriage but also the entrenched conservatism of the rural South. Joyful in recounting her experiences with an endlessly astonishing parade of human nature, Campbell portrays a unique slice of American life at a pivotal time with the fall of Richard Nixon’s presidency and the end of the Vietnam War. Buoyed by a wellspring of support and companionship, Campbell struggles to hang on to her dream of independence.
5-star review: “Gas, Grass, and Ass,” is not just a catchy title. This is a slice of life story straddling time between being a young married college grad to being a young divorcee running a gas station in very small town Arkansas/America. In that way it’s a slice of history of the time, but more so it is a slice of how much and how little has changed about how we treat each other. Assuming that because she was a single (divorced!) woman running a business on the side of the highway made her fair game for sexual advances and gossip, the “locals” decided her business success or failure, rewards and punishments. I think the writing is exceptional because if you’ve ever walked into one of these little gas stations where old men like to congregate and watch the world from their bench, you will find yourself right back in that space again. Well-worth the read.