What Is the Green Stuff?

Green fields near Allenville 05-04-2014Mother and I were cruising around Allenville for a followup on an old story when we started passing field after field of green stuff. She thought it might be wheat, but she wasn’t sure.

I divide the world into two classes: food and feed. Food has feet or fins. If it doesn’t have feet or fins, then it must be feed for food.

So, what were we looking at? You can click on the picture to make it larger.

Travel update

Got a late start leaving Cape Monday, so I didn’t make it east of Louisville as planned. I stopped at a rest area with a decision to make: do I take a 22-minute nap and push on, or do I search to see if there is any lodging nearby. I selected Door Number 2.

There was a motel five minutes away in Ferdinand, IN. It was sometime around midnight-thirty (more about that in a minute), so I decided to stop.

I earned one discount because of the alphabet soup of travel organizations I threw out (I didn’t actually SAY I was a member of them; I just asked if they cut prices for them. I got another reduction by pointing out that I was the last person they were probably going to see that night, and I got another cut by being a member of their chain’s organization.

Time is a little confusing

Just before I headed to the room, the desk clerk said, “Time is a little confusing here. The motel is the the Eastern Time Zone; your cell phone is going to show Central time because the dividing line is the Interstate.”

He wasn’t kidding. My cell phone alarm went off at 9:32 a.m., but the motel’s alarm clock said 10:30. Must be tough to live around there.

I got into Athens in time to have dinner with Curator Jessica. She says I have to put on my shoes and pants tomorrow for a 3-hour oral history interview with the Ohio University School of Media Arts and Studies. Jessica is supposed to be asking me questions about what it was like to have gone to college shortly after the earth’s crust cooled. They told her that we don’t have to fill the whole three hours, but Jessica said, “I don’t think he’ll have any problem talking that long.”

The Pie Safe

This is the time of year when thoughts turn to pie and presents. Sharon Rose Penrod and her Pie Safe in Pocahontas can help you with the first. I can help you with the second.

Let me go on record that I support buying from local businesses like The Pie Safe, where most of the ingredients are locally grown. Some of the vegetables come from a 100-year-old garden on on a farm owned by her husband’s family since the 1880s.

BUT, if you are going to be one of the tens of thousands of folks who go over to Amazon to do your shopping, let me make a pitch for you to get there by clicking THIS LINK or the Amazon ad in the upper lefthand corner of the page. If you do that, I get a tiny percentage of what you spend, and it doesn’t cost you a penny extra. The DONATION button helps pay for the gas that it takes to get me back and forth to Cape, too.

Pie Safe used to be bank

The Pie Safe started out as the Pocahontas Bank in 1910 with deposits of $10,000, but it didn’t survive the Crash of 1929. It served a variety of uses over the years, including being an insurance office and a home.

Safe has 24-inch walls

The ornate safe with its 24-inch-thick concrete walls still dominates one wall.

“It found me”

Sharon Rose and her husband, Monte, had been active in Jackson’s farmers market when she decided to turn her talent for baking into a business. “I didn’t find the bank, it found me,” she said of her building. The cafe has been open since June 12, 2012.

No real menu

The Pie Safe doesn’t have a formal printed menu. There’s a whiteboard with the specials scrawled on it, but “some days I run out of stuff, so I’ll tell customers, ‘Here are the ingredients I have. What would you like to make me out of them?'”

I showed up the other day just before closing time. “I’ve got my heart set on some of your coconut cream pie (topped with REAL whipped cream, not “calf slobber”).

“I don’t have any left,” she said.

The lip quiver worked

I put on my saddest face and gave her the patented lip quiver.

“OK, I might be able to whip one up while you’re eating,” she relented.

“I’ll chew slowly,” I promised.

When I finished up, she said, “I don’t think this is going to have time to set up.” I offered to eat a piece and take two with me.

“I don’t want to sell this”

“I really don’t want to sell this,” she remonstrated. “The whipped cream is sliding into the base. I’m not going to be able to cut it.”

“How about if I take the WHOLE pie? I’m headed up to the museum at Altenburg. I can pop it into the fridge in 20 minutes.”

Against her better judgement, she let me take it.

For the record, she was right. It never DID set up solidly, but Mother and I didn’t care. We were more interested in taste than appearance. We managed to polish it off in two days.

Got her baking skills from mother

She says she got her baking know-how from her mother, Shirley Schroeder Petschke, whose photos grace the walls.

Where is it?

If you can find Pocahontas, which is north of Cape Girardeau and south of Altenburg, you won’t have any trouble finding The Pie Safe, which is in the heart of downtown. (Don’t blink.)

It’s open from 6 am to 2 pm Wednesday through Saturday. The phone number is 573-833-6743. You can send Sharon Rose email at srpenrod@gmail.com

Tell her Ken said “Hi” and to start working on a coconut cream pie for when I come back in a couple of months.

Pie Safe photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

I Love Fish Camps

I spent a day and a half roaming around Gastonia, N.C., looking for familiar sights without finding many. Maybe being in the town for just under two years didn’t imprint many memories, or maybe the town really HAS changed. I couldn’t even find the two places we lived while we were there.

One thing I wanted to check out, though, was a fish camp. They were huge, barn-like affairs with long tables (and equally long lines of people waiting to get in). Huge quantities of seafood and other delicacies were served family-style and all-you-can-eat.

First fish camp so-so

I was told the one we used to frequent had changed hands several times, but another one was just down the road from it was recommended. I showed up and got a huge quantity of food, but it was nothing to write home about. It tended to the greasy side.

Long Creek Fish Fry

I was still in town at 2 o’clock, so I thought I’d give Long Creek Fish Fry a try for a late lunch. I ordered a shrimp/oyster combo and added a buck to get onion rings instead of another side.

I hadn’t expected to take any photos, but I just had to pull out my Droid smart phone to shoot the Before photo of my plate to send back to Wife Lila.¬† Sorry for the fuzzy pix.

The sad thing is that I ate so much that one more bite would have caused an unpleasant explosion, and I still had almost half a plate of oysters and shrimp left. I was tempted to stay another night so I could heat the leftovers in a hotel microwave.

Cost: about 20 bucks, including tip.

“That’s My Girlfriend”

Here is my obligatory Valentine’s Day post.

I followed Bill Robinson and Jesse King out to their home on Robinson Road, just outside Athens, Ohio, on a cold, snowy January day in 1969. You’ll be hearing more about what I was doing there and see more photos in the coming weeks. Click on the photos to make them larger.

If there had been a Hoarder’s TV show back then, these old farmer bachelors would have qualified. Not long after I picked my way through a maze of tunnels of debris inside the house, they led me to the kitchen. It was piled high with dirty dishes and food of ¬†indeterminate origin.

“Have you ever tried one of these before?

Jesse, who did most of the talking for the duo, reached onto the table, wiped off a fork on his overalls and thrust it into my hand. With the other hand, he pulled a bowl off the table. It contained something that was sort of lumpy. In the dim light, I couldn’t quite pull out what color it was, but it glowed vaguely green.

“Boy,” he said. (Remember he was the talkative one.) “Have you ever tried one of these before?

I could see where this was going and it didn’t look good.

  • If I said “yes,” I knew he he would say, “Well, I bet you’ve never had any as good as these.”
  • If I said, “no,” he’d say, “Well, dig in. You won’t find any better than these.” I was a gonner either way.

I looked at the dish and the fork and did a mental calculation: These old goats eat this stuff every day and it hasn’t killed them. “No, Jesse, I haven’t.”

“Well, dig in, You won’t find any better than these,” he said, predictably.

The ghostly apparition

I forked up a small quantity of the unknown dish. Before I could say anything, I noticed a ghostly white form floating into the room. “WOW! This stuff really works fast. I bet I could make a fortune selling this stuff on campus,” I thought.

Jesse turned to the apparition and said, “That’s my girlfriend.”

I never found out the girlfriend’s name nor what the mystery green dish was. (For the curious, it was sort of like a pickle, with a strange gritty crunch that was either some kind of seasoning or, more likely, sand. I didn’t ask for the recipe. There are some things you’re better off not knowing.)

Here’s MY girlfriend

I ran across this frame from a shoot of Grandma Gatewood, an extraordinary woman who, at the age of  67 was the first woman to hike the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in one season. When I shot her on the Buckeye Trail near Logan, Ohio, in January of 1969, she was 81 and had done the Appalachian Trail two more times.

The day was beyond miserable. The rain aspired to turn cold enough to become snow; it was so foggy you couldn’t see 100 yards; there was icy snow melt ready to fill your shoes and the trail was a quagmire that would suck your boots off.

When I was editing the film, I was surprised to find two frames of Lila Perry before she became Lila Steinhoff. I hadn’t remembered that she had come along on the assignment. Let me tell you, even someone as dense as I am knew that if you could find a woman who would give you a look like this under those conditions, she was a definite keeper and you shouldn’t let her get away.

We were married in June of 1969.

Valentines past

If you want to see the ones who DID get away, check out my grade school Valentines rescued from Mother’s attic last year.