I whined on Facebook Wednesday that I was tired of eating frozen microwaved dinners and needed somebody to nudge me to a craving. I ended up visiting the El Sol on Broadway for the first time and chowing down on an excellent platter of nachos.
Museum Maven Carla Jordan pointed out that if I could hold out until Thursday night, I could feast on the liver and onion special at Altenburg’s newly refurbed Mississippi Mud Saloon. I love L&O, so Thursday evening saw me bellied up to the bar between The Missourian’sNancy Hadler and Gerard Fiehler from the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum.
The photo doesn’t do the dish justice. I’m a lousy food reviewer because I’m more interested in consumption than documentation. I had already taken a couple of bites before even thinking about pulling out my Droid smart phone to record this. The funky bar lighting gave the meal a strange cast.
Sharp knife or tender meat?
When the server brought out my meal, I made a quick cut and asked her, “Is this a really sharp knife or is the liver really tender?”
“Use your fork. You won’t need a knife.” She was right.
I’ll be back. The only minor problem for me is that it’s a bar that allows smoking. I was lucky that nobody around me was puffing away Thursday. Generally you can find a table that’s relatively smoke-free.
It was too dark to get a good shot of the front of the building, so I’ll substitute this picture taken through the front door of the now-defunct Altenburg Grocery in 2011.
Niece Amy is getting married in Tulsa this weekend, so there has been a mass exodus from Florida headed to Oklahoma. It wasn’t exactly on the path, but Sons Adam and Matt, their spouses and their brood, stopped by to see Mother, who is very much on the mend.
She and I both finally got to meet the newest arrival, Finn Levi Steinhoff. You can click on the photos if you want to be exposed to excessive cuteness.
Mother, Matt, Malcolm and I got together to update the last four-generation photo we took several years ago.
It was decided that three months was too long for me to go without a haircut and beard trim. (Like my barber says, “There are two kinds of men with hair on their faces: those who have beards and those who don’t shave.” I’m pretty sure I had slipped into that second category.)
I polled my Facebook friends and got several suggestions for a local barber. My requirements: “I want an old-fashioned barber. I don’t want a stylist, I don’t want the place to smell like hair spray, and I want a REAL barber chair, not some light-weight aluminum job.” Basically, I was looking for Ed Unger, but he retired in 1983.
I eliminated the ones from Bill Hopkins that suggested PETCO and a barber who is pretty good “when he is sober.” For the record, I was very happy with Scott at the Varsity Barber Shop.
Cards keep coming in
When I mentioned that Mother loves getting mail, scores of you sent some really cool cards. This one, by Jane Paquin, 74, of Seal Beach, Cal., was one of the most unique.
Tower Rock Whirlpool
The whirlpool south of Tower Rock kept trying to get organized, but it would dissipate before it got going good. Still, it was fun for the group to guess whether a floating log would get pulled into the swirling water or if it would escape and go straight downstream.
I’ve driven the road between Cape and Wittenberg so many times that I take the hills and curves a little on the fast side. About two-thirds of the way there, Daughter-in-Law Sarah looked at Malcolm and warned, “I think we’re about to have a Dramamine moment back here.” I slowed down.
Gerard to the rescue
When we made it to the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum, Gerard Fiehler came to the rescue with a can of soda to calm things down. Before long, Malcolm was listening to Gerard tell him (and let him see for himself) the difference between how a harpsichord and a piano make sounds.
He liked the whirlpool, liked the museum, liked picking up railroad spikes along the train tracks, but he REALLY liked driving his great-grandmother’s riding mower around the back yard.
“Look at all the alligators”
When we went down to the riverfront, Graham looked at all the logs floating down the river and said, “Look at all the alligators!” You can tell he’s a Florida boy.
They got to splash rocks, see a towboat taking on fuel, touch the river and look at the mural on the flood wall. It’s a good thing they didn’t see this woman doing The Foolish Frolic in the floodwaters. They’d have probably tried it and ended up in New Orleans.
River walk photo gallery
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. In order of tallness: Adam, Carly, Graham, Elliot and (being carried), Finn.
Seelitz, in eastern Perry County, was a short-lived town near Altenburg. It was one of the seven colonies established in 1839 in the Saxon Migration.
Click on the photos to make them larger.
Not a good location
Gerard Fiehler from the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum walked me back to where a memorial stone contains the names of some of the earlier settlers. You’ll notice that many of the dates are from the first two years of the settlement.
Seelitz, I was told, was located in a low area that it made it disease-prone. The other problem was that the the early inhabitants were mostly students and professional men poorly prepared for carving out farms and houses from wilderness.
Rev. Stephens exiled
The Rev. Martin Stephan was the leader of the movement. He and his followers, with a communal treasury of $88,000 (you can see the chest it was kept in at the museum), landed in Wittenberg with the goal of farming about 4,500 acres of land that resembled what they had left in Saxony, Germany.
Rev. Stephan, however, was accused of “voluptuous living and dictatorial conduct” and put in a boat for exile to Illinois. It is rumored that he had been tapping the till and some of the wives.
That was the start of the Missouri Synod
Despite all the difficulties, the Saxon immigration was the start of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which was established in 1847.
One of the first people I met at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum was volunteer Bob Fielher. At the time, I just thought he was a nice guy who knew a lot about area history.
I wish I had recorded some of this stories. Unfortunately, Bob died of cancer in 2009, and I missed the opportunity. Over the years, I have gotten to know his son Gerard, and Gerard has done a great job of keeping his memories alive.
Gerard tells about a boy who had never been further than St. Louis, who was drafted at 18; drove a tank in the Battle of the Bulge at 19; won a Purple Heart; stayed in Germany as a translator during the Occupation, and then returned to Altenburg to work in the family garage.
“He had lived a whole lifetime …”
“He had lived a whole lifetime by the time he was 20 years old,” Gerard observed.