Marty Riley’s Glenn House Exhibit

Marty Riley art exhibit 04-01-2016Marty Perry Riley, Wife Lila’s sister, was the featured artist at the landmark Glenn House on April 1. I have long admired her work, but I didn’t realize she had done so many pieces. She is a member of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and the Visual Arts Cooperative, and a frequent winner of contests.

Marty, a retired RN, was the person we’d call when Mother needed help with something over the years, and Wife Lila had her number on the speed dial whenever one of the kids broke or bent something. Her’s was the voice of comfort that would say, “Don’t worry. Just stick Adam’s arm back on with super glue and a couple bandages and he’ll be fine.”

She likes street painting, too

Marty Perry Riley LW Street Painting Festival 02-27-2011Her work isn’t confined to canvas, either. She’s been down to Lake Worth, Florida, a couple of times to participate in the annual Street Painting Festival, one of the biggest in the country.

Brother Mark Turns 60

Mark Steinhoff - Robin Hirsch wedding 09-08-2014Brother Mark turned 60 on March 10. It’s hard to believe. It seems like it was just yesterday that Mother, Son Adam and I snuck up to St. Louis to attend a surprise birthday party for his 50th trip around the sun.

This picture was taken when he and Robin got married September 8, 2014. Dad’s construction company had a whole bunch of padlocks with a key code of 2406, so we used them over the years on family locks in at least four states. Giving a 2406 to Robin meant that she was now, officially, a Steinhoff.

One of my all-time favorites

Mary - Mark Steinhoff KY Lake 10-16-08This shot of Mother and Mark in front of the trailer at Kentucky Lake is one of my favorite pictures of the two of them. Sometimes you’d love to be able to go back and relive a moment.

Mark through the years

I’m not going to use ALL of my Mark pictures for his 60th. He may have a few more birthdays to go, and I need to dole them out. Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.

Dad’s Secret Stamp Stash

LV Steinhoff stamps 01-09-2015I got a package in the mail this morning from Brother Mark. It contained two plastic bags of U.S. postage stamps and a letter that read, in part:

“Dad had put away several boxes of stamps years ago in the basement. He put them in old checking account check boxes and sealed them with tape. That was good and it was bad. Good, because it kept anyone from using them, but even though he separated most of the with a piece of waxed paper, the humidity i the basement got into some of them and caused the glue to become sticky.

Bought them in sheets

“Dad used to buy stamps when he went to the post office to pick up mail for Steinhoff & Kirkwood Construction. He would buy them a sheet at a time and he wanted ones that had a block number on them, probably because he thought it might be worth more like that.

“I took them to some folks in St. Louis who appraised them to be worth about $65 [he didn’t say how much more than face value, if any, they were worth]. I didn’t think it was worth selling them for such a small amount to be split three ways [Mark, David and me]. I’ve done my best to equally separate the stamps so that everyone gets a fair sample of what was there.”

Lila and I collected stamps

LV Steinhoff stamps 01-09-2015

When I was a kid, I collected stamps, but never had anything that was worth a whole lot, then Wife Lila collected commemoratives for awhile. She checked with Sons Matt and Adam, but neither of them were interested in them, so she was going to offer them up for sale. None of mine were rare, and most had been cancelled, so I don’t think they’ll move us into a better brand of cat food.

I told her the ones Mark sent had no real sentimental value for me, so why doesn’t she just use them on mail. She pointed out that we send very few snail mail letters these days, and, even if we did, most of the stamps are of such small denominations that you’d have to cover the whole front of the envelope with them.

Got any stamp collectors out there? Or snail mailers? (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Truck Stops and CB Radio

Bertrand truck stop 12-03-2015I was headed toward Charleston on I-57 working on my Bootheel project when I spotted this abandoned truck stop at the Bertrand exit. As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

I’ve always had a soft spot for truck stops, going back to the old CB radio days when you’d while away hundreds of miles giving and receiving Smokey reports and sharing road stories. Eventually, somebody would say they were going to stop for fuel, food or facilities, and all of us with time to spare would peel off to put faces with handles.

“Hey, Sweet Thang, got your ears on?”

Bertrand truck stop 12-03-2015Long before Facebook came along, you’d develop rolling friendships with the men and women who fought sleep and boredom by reaching for their microphones. In the dark of the night, somewhere in the Carolinas, I’d been chewing the fat with my front door, an 18-wheeler whose name I’ve long since forgotten, when he said, “Watch out for that four-wheeler. He’s weaving all over the road. Don’t know if he’s drunk or sleepy. Whoa! It ain’t a ‘he,’ it’s a couple girls. ‘Hey, sweet thang, you got your ears on?'”

He quickly established that it was a couple of college girls coming back from break and they were, indeed sleepy, and they had their ears on.

“Sweet thang, pull that vehicle over on the shoulder. I’m going to drive for awhile before you kill yourself or somebody else. I’d let my partner do it, but he’s young and horny, and I’m a grandfather.”

Sure enough, the car pulled over, the driver hopped in, and we went back to rolling for another hour or so until we all wheeled into a truck stop for a cup of 100-weight and a slab of pie.

“Beware of rattlesnakes”

Bertrand truck stop 12-03-2015I thought I had told this story before, but I couldn’t find it in the archives. In 1990, we took the Great Family Vacation Out West. We were driving though the part of Texas where the rest areas had warnings, “Beware of Rattlesnakes,” and signs saying, “Next Services – 120 Miles.” We fought the nighttime boredom by talking to Crazy Eights, the 18-wheeler in front of us, and having the Sons Matt and Adam count the deer eyes shining back at us along the sides of the road (they spotted more than 200 – deer, not eyes).

Finally, Wife Lila said, “I’ve had it. Stop at the next place that has lights.”

I spotted the only break in the darkness, a small motel that had seen much better days (assuming it had EVER had better days), said our goodbyes to Crazy Eights, and let my headlights sweep the motel. Wife Lila said, “Don’t even slow down, Keep on going.”

“Them boys ever been in a big truck?”

Bertrand truck stop 12-03-2015About two miles up the road, Crazy Eights was idling on the shoulder. “I knew you’d be coming along shortly. Have them boys ever been in a big truck?”

After we allowed as how there had been a gap in their education, he offered to let him ride with him.

Wife Lila hesitated, but I argued that this might be the high point of their vacation, and that one of two things would happen: (a) when we got to civilization, he’d give ’em back, or (b) he wouldn’t. At that point in the trip, either would work for me.

I miss the old truck stops

Bertrand truck stop 12-03-2015In the old days, the legend was that you could find a good place to eat by seeing how many trucks were parked around it. That wasn’t necessarily true; they might be there because there was plenty of parking for the big rigs; the fuel could be cheaper than up the road, the waitresses could be friendly and pretty, or the food could actually be good, plentiful and cheap.

Nowadays, alas, you are just as likely to see a national chain restaurant like Popeye’s, McDonalds, or the like serving up the same old food you can get anywhere. (I loved the strawberry pie at the 76 truck stop at Wildwood.)

I bet even Mavis at the Old Home Filler Up and Keep On Truckin’ Cafe is riding a rocking chair in an old folks home.