Pay No Attention to the High Wire Act…

Only a few miles north, along Highway 13, I found The Shrine of Our Lady of the Two Ugly Utility Poles Standing Side by Side in Our Front Yard. That’s my name for it anyway. It’s the world’s best attempt … Read More

Calamity

Down the road from Dottie & Chub’s, Ravanna is an unincorporated area within spittin distance of the Vandyke Conservation Area. It boasts 248 residents, but its most famous product is Martha Jane Cannary. When she was 13, her family moved … Read More

Goodness, Gracious, Great Bales o’ Fire!

Bales in a Field of Fire

We came upon the biggest black field I’d ever seen. Musta been 100 acres. I drove through miles and miles of the blackened fields of Harrison County, burned off after the harvest, to reinvigorate the soil. It’s a fiery, smoky … Read More

Oops!

Graveyard for Naughty English Teachers

We passed a sign that said Chapel Hill Cemetary (sic). Imagine any English teacher buried there, eternally damned to lie under a misspelled word. Then again, maybe the sign was painted by one of her students, in which case she … Read More

Skunks, Laws and Hardware

 “That there’s not a skunk,” the guide pointed to one animal pelt on a table, “That’s genuine Alaskan sable.” It was a skunk, the guide admitted, but to the European fur market in the early 1800s, the term Alaskan sable … Read More

A Toast to the World’s Hottest Museum

A witling would say it’s a description of Hell: 4,000 toasters, no bread. But hey, if Richard Larrison ever used all his toasters at once, it might create Hell, or havoc, or at least a lot of heat, pulling enough … Read More

Well-traveled children…

“Got a ham bone?” I asked the undertaker. I pulled a two-pound bag of great northern beans out of my overcoat pocket and plopped it on his desk. He looked puzzled. “Last request,” I said, and told him about my … Read More

I broke in…

Lewis Café doesn’t look like much from the outside. It sits on Main Street in downtown St. Clair under an old 1930s-looking awning in an old 1930s-looking beige brick building. But in the restaurant world, the homely facade means there’s … Read More

Watery Grave

Looking upriver from the Hermann bluff, I could almost see Sonora Chute. It was a cold February day in 1856 when Captain Bill Terrill ran his sidewheeler Sonora through ice floes near Portland, Missouri. At 363 tons, the Sonora was … Read More