On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, there's a place that has everything to do with chance. It isn't a casino. It isn't a racetrack. It's actually a tiny town right next to Deal Island — a town by the name of Chance.
And on Chance's main drag, you'll find a bright yellow building that's become an anchor for the community of 300-some people: Lucky's Last Chance General Store.
Geri Foster's been working at Lucky's about six months.
"I'm not far from here, because I'm only about three miles away," she says. "So it's real close; that's convenient. And you get to know everybody in the community. That's nice, too."
In addition to working the register at Lucky's, Geri and her co-worker, Michelle Burr, also cook up a storm for the restaurant in back: The Paradise Grille.
Foster and her co-worker, Michelle Burr, say the best-selling item is the cheesesteak. But oysters and crabs are popular too, depending on the season.
"During oyster season, everybody loves the Rockefellers [and] the single fry," Burr explains.
Margaret Palau owns Lucky's Last Chance. The Virginia native lived in Boston for a while, before moving to Chance and opening Lucky's about a decade ago. But her family actually has deep roots in the Eastern Shore.
"My father's family actually was from Taylor's Island, just one peninsula area up," she says. "And they were Methodist ship builders. And if you go to Taylor's Island, there are people in the grave with the last name Lambdin, which was my maiden name.
"I actually saw myself there! There was a 'Margaret E. Lambdin' buried in the Methodist church in Taylor's Island!"
Palau describes Lucky's as "a community gathering place. We see some of the same customers about four or five times a day."
And you can divide those customers, Palau says, into three categories. "Born-Heres" are the natives. "Brung-heres" are "the poor little wives that got dragged off the main land," Palau says with a laugh. And the "Come-Heres" are the people who retire here.
"Conflicts usually arise between Born Heres and Born Heres," Palau explains. "And then there's the Born Heres that don't like the Come Heres. And then there's people that get along with everybody. It's just like every community. There's a mix."
And on any given day, you'll find this mix at Lucky's Last Chance General Store in Chance, Md.
Perhaps they're admiring the driftwood mobiles and animals created by Margaret and her husband. Maybe they're taping another news clipping to the "Wall of Fame." Or it could be they're just walking in, ordering a single fry and talking their troubles away.
"We do a lot of therapy," Palau says with a smile.
Whatever the case, here in this bright yellow building on the Eastern Shore's western shore, Margaret Palau is happy to give them that chance.
[Music: "Taking a Chance on Love" by Stephane Grappeli from Jazz in Paris: Improvisations]
Photos: Chance, Maryland