Dandelions and Dad’s Birthday

Dandelions on Jackson Courthouse lawn 04-15-2014Everybody talks about the pretty fall colors, but I like coming back to the Midwest to see things returning to life in the spring. Nothing says spring like bright green clover and balls of yellow dandelions.

These dandelions on the Jackson Courthouse lawn were flashing yellow caution lights warning us not to get too comfortable even though the mercury was creeping into the upper 70s. Winter, apparently wasn’t done with us yet, because those warm temps were replaced by freeze warnings.

Near Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church

Dandelions near Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Chuch 04-15-2014Reader and railroad buff Keith Robinson tipped me off that one of Louis Houck’s railroad depots was still standing in Fruitland, so Mother and I headed up there to check it out. You’ll get to see it after I’ve done a bit more research.

Knowing Mother’s desire to find a road she’s never been on before, I turned onto 541 off of Hwy 61. Before long, we were at a well-preserved Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church and cemetery. That, too, will be a future post.

Beyond it, we passed a whole field of dandelions flashing caution signs at us. I know some folks call them weeds, but I think they’re pretty.

Dad would be 97 today

LV Steinhoff in 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon 1961L.V. Steinhoff was born April 17, 1917. He would be 97 today had he not died in 1977. This picture of Dad behind the wheel of our 1959 Buick LaSabre station wagon, ever-present cigarette in hand, had to have been taken about 1961, because he gave up smoking about two years later. I spent many a mile looking at this profile and I’d love to see it again. This post will tell you a little about who he was.

Because he and his two brothers were dead by 60, I never thought I’d make it past that birthday.

I guess it’s a healthy sign that I just mentioned two future stories. When I was 59, I was much more cautious about making plans for tomorrows. I told Curator Jessica on one of our road trips last year that I was taking out five-year options now. When I hit 67, I figured I’d make it to 72; when I get there, I’ll see if I can renew the lease.

Downtown Jackson

Downtown Jackson and County Courthouse 07-18-2013Buddy Jim Stone, still vibrating from excitement after chasing a huge magnet up the Mississippi River yesterday rousted me out of bed to go to breakfast Thursday morning. I took him to the Pie Bird in Fruitland.

I got some work done in the afternoon and hooked up with him for dinner. He was in a dead cow mood, but didn’t want to go to the chain steak joints around the I-55 / mall area.

We headed to Tractors Classic American Grill in downtown Jackson. Not a lot of stores were open, but the street had plenty of cars and trucks parked on it. (Watch out when you open your passenger side door: the curb is high enough that Jim smashed my car door into it. Twice. Once in, and once on the way out. I think it was the scientist in him. He wanted to prove the event was reproducible.)

Good service, decent food

I was pleasantly surprised to find they have a non-smoking area that was more smoke-free than my last visit several years ago. Our waitress was friendly, helpful and attentive. My medium steak was a little overcooked, but not enough to send back. Everything else, including a fresh strawberry pie, was excellent.

After a number of glasses of wine, Jim volunteered to pick up the check.

I think he’s going to use my photos to prove this was a business trip. He was going on and on about how he was prepared to take the bullet if anyone on the riverbank took a potshot at his magnet.

Then, he went and banged my car door on the curb again.

Sunset at Fruitland Intersection

If Facebook is any indication, everyone I know in Southeast Missouri took a picture of the first sunset of November 2012. I saw some nice light playing over fields and barns on the way home from Perry County, but most of the time I was looking directly into the glare of the setting sun every time the road took a twist to the west.

It wasn’t until I was coming up on the light at the U.S. 61 and I-55 intersection that I had a chance to actually look at the sky. A second after I grabbed my camera, the light turned green and I had to go. Still, there was enough time to snap off a couple of frames.

I wonder the the driver of the pickup speeding by on the Interstate appreciated the sky or if he (she) merely pulled down the sun visor to block the rays, more concerned with feeding the belly than the soul? Click on the photo to make it larger. (Unless, of course, you’re headed to the kitchen for a snack.)