Left Arkansas in a "mog"--that's
halfway between a fog and a mist.
I have a car nut friend who
is building a "Klampet-mobile"--remember the rickety old car that the Beverly
Hill Billies drove to California? Well, the one used in the show
is located at the Ralph Foster Museum and I arrived there at the opening
this morning. Video'd and snapshotted the rusty Oldsmobile for reference
for my friend and then wandered around this very interesting Ozark museum.
I learned about Rose O'Neill,
the originator of the Kewpie doll and learned that the war embargo between
England and Germany was lifted momentarily during WWII to let through a
shipment of the dolls to the US for Christmas. Now THAT'S pull!
The idea for the kewpie came to Rose in a dream and because she was a lady
unlucky in love she didn't want to call them cupids, so called them kew-pees
instead. Rose was an artist, sculpturer, writer and I was so impressed
with the story and the large display of pre-Precious Moments cherubs that
when I saw an exit for her home (past Branson) I followed the Kewpie-Land
signs and learned more. She did very well with the Kewpie illustrations
and dolls, having them produced in Germany. She was a bit of a jet
setter but her favorite spot was her home in the Ozarks where she said
she did her best work. Because of war, her passing and other complications,
the Kewpie was manufactured in the US using composite material. Then
some American purchased a porcelian factory in Germany and came upon the
original molds for the Kewpie. Talk about a find! These little
things are tres collectable, folks. If you've got one, you can finance
your own trip around the country.
Anyway, back to the Ralph Foster
Museum which is 3 floors of eclectic stuff and you will learn a variety
of things from this collection donated to the college by Ralph, first radio
station guy to get a station going. A sampling of what you'll learn:
Polar bears have black skin. Polar bears' livers are poisonous because
they contain an excessive amount of Vitamin A. Lincoln had a $5 Confederate
bill in his pocket when he was shot. Booth tried 2 kidnapping schemes before
he did his deed at Ford's theatre. Where was the Secret Service THEN?
Oh, perhaps we didn't have one. Thomas Hart Benton designed the cover
for "Grapes of Wrath" and painted his first mural at the age of 6 on wallpaper.
(I just wonder if his mama WANTED that wall painted....) The Ozarks was
part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and Thomas Jefferson (using tax
payers $$, of course) got the land for 3 cents an acre.
Ralph Foster's museum is located
on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. As I drove around the
swan pond with spraying fountain and enjoyed the grounds and green, I noticed
a lot of students pruning, sweeping, digging, pulling weeds. Hmmmm.
Must be student clean up day, I thought. Wrong. These kids
WORK FOR THE COLLEGE ALL THE TIME. They clerk at the stores, make
gifts and apple butter for the shop, mow the grass--they WORK! What
a concept! When I learn more, I'll pass it along. I'm still
trying to adjust to such an amazing idea. Duh. Sounds so practical.
Motored thru Branson where
you can see the World's Largest Banjo, catch Andy Williams singing in his
Christmas sweater, see magic shows, blue grass, comedy, Americana.
But an off-color comment, joke or song will get your ass bounced out of
Branson. There are stage performances going on literally all hours
of the day and night. Park in Arkansas and take a bus in.
I continued on Highway 65,
stopping at Rose O'Neill's place and looking thru all the kewpie dolls
there too. Never did find one that looked EXACTLY like the one I
had. I walked around her house and I can see why she loved it--there
is a brook running thru the property that makes a chime sound, perfectly
wonderful. Can't say I really connected with her non-Kewpie sculpture
displayed here altho it wow'd them in France. One large cement looking
thing looks like a couple trying to get it on and trying to turn into broccoli
at the same time. Well, you see it and see how you describe it.
Back on the highway and out
of the vortex of Branson, the road was heating up, all the cooling clouds
burned off and I settled in to "make time." That didn't last long.
I got off for Lambert's Cafe. Since 1942 this place has been stuffing
Americans with what they want--food and lots of it. I think I saw
some of the same folks that I saw at Brown's in Arkansas here.
Lambert's is like several gymnasiums
decorated with flags, kites and license plates with a dozen squadrons of
people ravenous and just off the road. About 50 people were waiting
outside to get in. Seno landed a prime parking place and I waltzed
right in--being just one person has SO many advantages. Inside it's
packed with happy people and even happier wait staff because they THROW
THE ROLLS. Not makin' it up! And they are those yeasty, hot,
already-slippery-with-butter rolls. I was lucky and caught both of
mine with the use of my lap. The chef's salad was as big as a microwave
oven and THEN they came around with fried potatoes and fried okra, all
you wanted. The tea was served in a container bigger than my head.
There are no napkins, just a roll of brown paper towels at the table.
You don't ask for a doggie bag, you ask for a doggie suitcase or trunk
I met Jason there who was right
on Seno when I pulled up. We chatted later because this guy knows
the value of going topless. His black Corvette convertible was in
the parking lot. He wants everyone to know that Missouri is the "Show
Me" state and that it's not just a slogan, he wants to see it to believe
it and thinks everybody should.
Getting hotter, I could only
last an hour or so and I'd have to pull over and cool off. Then I
discovered throwing water on myself and that has made life easier.
I passed up the little town of Pleasant Hope but I had to get a picture
of Humansville. Met Joe a 10-year old and he grilled me about Seno.
I parked the roadster in the shade of a tree at a city park (Humansville
is only a few blocks long with 900+ people) and a frog hopped out from
under the car. I captured him in a cloth towel to get his picture
and that's when I noticed the gas station across the street: the
Quick Jump that has a frog for a logo. Well, that was TOO much.
Photo to follow.
Also met Bill Clark who told
me about the French Indian fellow named James Human who sort of founded
the town. The deed to Bill's place even mentions the original Human
land grant. Mr. Human became Judge Human and everybody knows we could
use more of those.
The Ozark hills provide you
with scenes that I haven't seen anywhere else. Like a long, long
stretched roller coaster, the high hills take you up, up for a great view
and then you race down, down playing tag back and forth with the trucks
that can't go up fast so you pass them and then come barreling down, filling
your rearview mirror with their grilles. There are at least 7 of
these thrilling hills before it starts to flatten out and becomes the Missouri
I remember from part of my childhood years of living in Belton.
The muscles in my legs and
feet finally went on strike. They chose midnight and two a.m. and
four a.m. Felt like Jesse Ventura was braiding them. My right
foot is especially balky because of all the driving. So what's the
home remedy for leg and feet cramps, folks? Email your successful
solutions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Make them cheap, easy to accomplish and effective. And non-narcotic.
And don't recommend your favorite massage person or acupuncturist, remember
I'm on the road.
This is real time. Or
unreal time. Actually feels pretty unreal to me. When you start
doing your dream it is like you've created the snow globe and now you are
IN the snow globe.