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.

2012 Top 10 Posts

Cape Girardeau Central High School girls in physical education uniformsNews outlets always run Top 10 stories at the end of the year because (a) they are usually short-staffed; (b) readers and viewers are busy with family activities and drop off; (c) it’s easy and can be done in advance, and (d) it’s traditional. So, for all of those reasons, except (c), here are the highest-read pages of 2012.

A 2010 post about the old gym uniforms topped the 2012 list because it went viral on another site. It was viewed 3,576 times.

#2 Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968I covered Simon and Garfunkel at Ohio University in 1968. This story was seen by 1,736 readers.

#3 Johnson’s Shut-ins

Johnson's Shut-In State Park circa 1978I was hoping to get back to update my Johnson Shut-Ins photos last summer but didn’t make it. Still, 1,674 folks looked at my old pictures.

#4 Queen Elizabeth II

web 1024 Queen Elizabeth layoutMy tale of getting to cover Queen Elizabeth II in the Bahamas because I was the only guy on the staff with a suit ranked 4th, with 1,462 views.

#5 David Holley’s obituary

David Holley of Wittenberg 07-18-2011David Holley, the last man living in Wittenberg and a storyteller supreme died April 11 of lung cancer. I only talked with the man twice, but he’s a character I’ll remember forever. His wife, Joanne, lives in one of only two buildings left in the once-vibrant Mississippi River town

#6 Low water exposed Tower Rock Quarry

Tower rock and quarry at low water 10-28-2011Low river levels has put Tower Rock in the news. A November 2011 story on the abandoned quarry south of The Rock was viewed 1,193 times.

#7 Geocachers conquer Tower Rock

Tower Rock geocachers 08-04-2012_6180

I was hoping the river would drop low enough for me to walk over to Tower Rock like Brother Mark and I did in 2003. It didn’t quite make it, and I didn’t want to take my inaugural kayak ride solo in the Mississippi River when these geocachers made the climb. The page was viewed 1,120 times, and 407 people clicked through to watch the video I produced about the day.

#8 “Rush Limbaugh is a horse’s patootie”

1024 Rush Limbaugh on Cape Girardeau's Floodwall 04-12-2011_3594I was interviewing Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray Seyer on a wide-ranging number of topics. Somehow or another, Rush Limbaugh came up. He described the high school Rush as a “horse’s patootie” for the way he monopolized the CB radio channels even when truckers were trying to get directions to local businesses. The page had 1,104 visitors.

#9 Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh

1969 Girardot Rush Limbaugh senior photo P 132A 2010 story pointing out the coincidence of Koran burner Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh both being members of the Cape Central Class of 1969 is still getting hits. It came in 9th with 1,099 readers.

#10 Lila turns fire photographer

Fire Wilmot and Georgia 05-21-2012I was running some errands when a warehouse across the street from our house exploded into flames. Wife Lila dialed 9-1-1, then grabbed her camera and started shooting. The West Palm Beach Fire Marshall and 1,099 other readers were interested in her handiwork.

Remember my Amazon link

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffIf you were one of the folks who stopped by 357,930 times during the year, don’t forget to place your Amazon orders by clicking on this big button or on the links at the top left of the page. I get a small percentage to keep the lights on and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.

 

 

 

 

Rush Limbaugh: “Horse’s Patootie”

Ray Seyer, Wife Lila’s uncle, was going to turn 90 in 2012, so we sat down with him on Oct. 20, 2010, for a wide-ranging discussion about what it was like to grow up in Southeast Missouri when much of it was still swampland. The result was a collection of ten videos that we put together for his family to pass down to their kids. I’ll get around to posting them one of these days.

Rush Limbaugh Remembered

A video that I didn’t include was Uncle Ray talking about one of his first encounters with high schooler Rush Limbaugh. As soon as school would let out, Rush would run home and fire up his CB and monopolize Calling Channel 9, making it impossible for truckers and others in the community to communicate.

[Channel 9 eventually became set aside for emergency use only. Truckers, who first migrated to Channel 10, moved to 19 about the time C.W. McCall’s song Convoy put two-way radio antennas on just about everything on the road.]

Despite a career in the Navy during World War II, Uncle Ray contented himself by labeling Rush a “horse’s patootie.” I’m sure he would have been more colorful, had Mother, Lila and Aunt Rose Mary not been in the room.

Rush Limbaugh and Terry Jones

September 9, 2010, when Terry Jones was international news because he was threatening to burn a Koran, I pointed out that Terry and Rush Limbaugh were both members of the Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1969. The story didn’t hint that they were in cahoots, it just noted the interesting coincidence that Cape’s two best-known exports were in the same class.

The Terry Jones / Rush Limbaugh story was picked up all over the world and got more traffic in three days than I usually get in a month. It also attracted 150 mostly respectful comments. I rode herd to make sure that they STAYED respectful.

Rush has been immortalized on Cape Girardeau’s Mississippi River floodwall mural displaying pictures of prominent Missourians. I don’t think they’ve reserved a space for Jones.

So, you are welcome to comment on an 88-year-old’s recollections of a young Rush Limbaugh, but we’re going to keep it civil, right?