Sunny Hill Is Hard to Shoot

I’ve tried several times over the years to take a picture of the old Sunny Hill Restaurant  On West End Blvd. south of Independence because people keep asking about it.

I have yet to find a good angle, but here are some attempts.

No good angle

There’s no good angle. First off, it’s an ugly building with no personality. Then, the multi-story building that was once a motel and is now apartments put what used to be the restaurant entrance in deep shadows. This is one building I wouldn’t miss if it falls to a wrecking ball. Anything that would make you think of the Sunny Hill of old is long gone.

Fred Lynch has Frony photos

The Missourian’s Fred Lynch has run at least two Frony photos that will look more like what we remember of Sunny Hill in its heyday.

The Country Store

One of Dad’s favorite places was The Country Store, located just north of Sunny Hill. It was a general merchandise store that sold all kinds of odds and ends, with the emphasis on odd. Over the years, the store was added onto until it was shaped something like a scorpion. I looked to see I had a recent photo of the building, but it’s either gone or I didn’t think to shoot one. All of my aerials cut off just east of Sunny Hill.

Wife Lila, who was proofing this, said she thought Mother had taken a photo of the Country Store right after we gave her a digital camera and while she was roaming all over town trying it out. I’m pretty sure this is it, but I’ll let someone else tell me for sure.


Highway 61: A Study in Red

Wife Lila, still back in West Palm Beach, called to say she had a pizza craving. Why did she call me in Cape? Because I’m the one who normally orders from Papa John’s website.

I placed her order (Large, with Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives and tomatoes) for pickup.

Did we ever foresee a world where someone in Cape Girardeau would (a) order a pizza over something called the Internet and (b) would do it so it could be picked up 1,100 miles away in West Palm Beach? My mind is boggled.

Anyway, that touched off a pizza craving for me, but I’m not going to order from a chain when Mario’s Pasta House is just over in Jackson. Mother and I were on our way over there when I noticed the sunset while we were stopped at Hwy 61 and I-55. I grabbed my camera off the console and snatched off a couple of frames, being thankful that I had just washed the windshield.

Stromboli to go

We got there about 20 minutes before closing, so I told our server that I’d get my Stromboli to go. “You know how big that thing is, don’t you?” she asked.

“Yep,” I said, “that’s why I ordered it.” The truth is, I had forgotten how huge it is. It came close to filling a pizza box.

The monster was cut into four pieces. I ate one piece for dinner, two pieces for lunch and have a huge piece left over. I don’t think I’m going to be able to face that last piece, no matter how good it is.

On the road again

Actually, because of the car trouble I’ve detailed over the past few days, I’m going to be OVER the road, not ON the road. I’m going to be dragging out of bed at 4 a.m. (if I make it to bed) to catch a Cape Air flight to St. Louis. There, I will miss a connecting Southwest flight to Tampa, which will be diverted to Baltimore, causing me to arrive in West Palm Beach just in time to see our flight to Seattle lifting off as I touch down. I love to fly.

I’ve got a few stories backlogged, but you may hit some dry spells while we’re exploring the Northwest. If you need to feed your addiction, this sitemap lists every story that we’ve run. There’s bound to have been one or two that you haven’t read. If you go to a page you’ve read before, press CTL-F5 to clear the cache and refresh your browser with new content.

Dexter’s Corner Stop Cafe

I’ve spent the past two days trying to find some folks I shot in New Madrid 44 years ago. It’s a long, hot story that we’ll cover later. My quest today took me to Sikeston, which isn’t far from Dexter. I managed to convince Mother that riding around with me was more fun that mowing the lawn when the heat index is 114 (she was mowing the lawn, not me). This is a mowing photo taken several years ago in Dutchtown to show her style.

Madeline DeJournett, Advance reporter and avid reader of this blog, has been touting a new restaurant in Dexter called the Mediterranean Steak House “on Locust, south of the Ben Franklin store.” That’s the way you give directions when you live in a small town. There’s no way to enter that in my GPS, so we got quite a tour of Dexter.

Dexter provided an education

I remember Dexter well. Jim Kirkwood and I got to help build Hwy 60 going through the town the summer that our two dads, L.V. Steinhoff and James Kirkwood of Steinhoff & Kirkwood, decided that we should learn the value of education. They wanted to get us smart enough NOT to do what they did for a living. I kept looking for a landmark that would help me find the stretch of road we helped pour, but it’s changed a lot.

Anyway, at 33 minutes past Hungry o’clock, we pulled up in front of the steak house. It was closed on Monday. We went back to the main drag and passed predictable fast food joints.

Corner Stop Cafe

I thought I remembered see a small local diner just up the street from the steak house, so we headed back down Locust, past the Ben Franklin store, until we came to the Corner Stop Cafe. There were a few cars around it, it looked clean and it looked new, so we decided to give it a shot.

As soon as we opened the door, I felt right at home: a voice said, “Watch your step.” I’ve been getting that advice for years, but then I looked down and saw that you had to step down to get into the restaurant. We apologized for showing up at closing time, but our server, who turned out to be the owner, was gracious. I asked for advice and Phyllis Kull said that she sells about 500 of their “Nothing Like It Chicken” a week, so it must be good.

The menu described it as “Chicken salad, cranberry, smoked Gouda cheese and Granny Smith apples slices, served on Texas toast.” All of that, plus a side (some great potato salad) for six bucks. My foodie friend, Jan Norris would have taken a photo of the plate, but I had more important things in mind – finishing it off so I could have some strawberry pie. Mother had a bacon quiche (hold the bacon) with toast and a generous serving of fresh fruit. They forgot to hold the bacon, but it was served on top, so I got it and pronounced it excellent.

I apologize to Phyllis for sticking her outside where the lighting was so harsh. She’s much more attractive than the picture would lead you to believe.

Mural done by local artist

The inside of the cafe is attractive, without being cutesy. The mural, a work in progress, is being done by a local artist. Phyllis is from Colorado. Her husband, Alan, has family in the area, so they wanted to move closer to them. They opened the place March 16, 2010, and have been doing well. “Dexter is a great community. We’ve been blessed.” One of the customers when we walked in was the mayor, she said.

I normally avoid sweet tea, but they had it just right. After being out in the hot sun, I downed three glasses of it. I told Phyllis that I had been shooting in a church in New Madrid Sunday when it was equally as hot. “When the preacher started talking about hell, fire and brimstone,” I said, “I jumped to my feet and shouted, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us some relief.’ At first I thought I might not have that testifying thing figured out exactly right, but an old man in the back row hollered, ‘AMEN,’ so I guess I did OK.”

Mother, who normally takes everything with a grain of salt, looked at me in horror and said, “You DIDN’T?” For once, I couldn’t milk it for all it was worth. I had to tell her I was kidding.

How was the pie?

I ordered the strawberry and Mother had the blackberry. They used fresh fruit, but the filling was a Jello-style that I’m not really fond of. It was good, but not my favorite. Of the two, I liked the blackberry better. The actual, non-Madeline-style address is 5 South Locust, Dexter, Mo.

I’m not sorry the steak house was closed. This place is a great find: good food in good quantities, served by some nice people. I sure wish they were in Cape and West Palm Beach.

Wimpy’s Corner Redone

Yet another bank is moving onto the corner of Cape Rock Drive and Kingshighway where Wimpy’s used to be. This time it’s First Missouri State Bank. The signs just went up in the last 10 days or so.

Corner of Kingshighway and Cape Rock

Get ready for the rains to come. I see the Southeast Missouri State Fair is due to start Sept. 10. Here’s what the fair looked like in 1964 (including rain).

Here’s how we remember Wimpy’s

You can see photos of Wimpy’s in 1966, 1967 and 2009 here. I bet a bank never gets the traffic that Wimpy’s did, particularly at night.