THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTH:

All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.



Monday, September 6, 2010

STMcC@McCarthyCountry.Pix [Part 3 Of 4]

.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2:
.
It was still dark and cloudy when I left for Waupaca, the little town where Joe McCarthy first went to work as a lawyer. Driving on roads unfamiliar to me and after I had gone too far to turn back, the sky began spitting again, then it started raining felines and canines and my subpar windshield wipers were of little help. In truth, those wipers may have been making the situation even worse!
.
And then suddenly - WHAM! – it’s not raining cats and dogs anymore; it’s raining bobcats and wolves! There’s mist and darkness everywhere and the windshield wipers are nearly useless. I can’t see hardly nuttin’ in front of me, and I’m thinking I ought to pull off the road, except I’m not sure where “off the road” would be exactly and only the small red tail lights of the car way up ahead of me somewhere in the grey give me any clue that I am still “on the road”. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die within minutes and I’m just thinkin’ about how grateful I am that I was able to have a marshmallow shake in Sheboygan before The Good Lord called me Home. But then as quickly as the rain had become bobcats and wolves, it diminished into kittens and puppies and the next thing I know, I’m walkin’ the streets of Waupaca and takin’ pictures under semi-sunny skies.
.

.

.
.
.
OK, next stop, the little town of Manawa, population -3. This is where a young Joe was once the manager of a small grocery store called Cashway in the late 1920s. I found Manawa (it was right where somebody had left it), and I enquired about Cashway in the convenience store. She’d never heard of it. I enquired about Cashway in the hardware store. They’d never heard of it. But they had a suggestion: “If the barber shop across the street is open, ask him.”
.
Well, of course! How dumb am I? Haven’t I seen enough episodes of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ to know that the communication center of every small town is the barber shop? Wasn’t Floyd Lawson the town historian of Mayberry? If they’ll know anywhere in town, they’ll know in the barber shop!
.
So, I walked into the shop – two chairs, no waiting. No one in the shop but Bill the barber. “I was in the hardware store and they sent me to you. They said you were sort of the town historian”, I said to Barber Bill. (Bill was really his name.) So I ask him about Cashway, and although the name doesn’t ring a bell, he proceeds to tell me where every grocery store had ever stood in the history of the town.
.
“There used to be one where the car wash is now; the pastry shop across the street was once a grocery store; there used to be one next to the bar; there used to be one that got torn down, and it stood next to where the bowling alley was before it was torn down; there was a grocery store just outside of town but they bulldozed and hauled away the outside of town in the 1960s”.
.
And on and on. Bill couldn’t recall the name Cashway, but he spent a full 15 minutes telling me where every grocery store in or around Manawa had ever sold so much as a can of beans.
.
I figured it was a hopeless cause and I was about to throw in the towel and thank him for his time and trouble when he suddenly asks me, “Why do you want to find where this grocery store was?”
“You know who Senator Joseph McCarthy was,” I said, not waiting for a reply. “Well, for awhile back in the 1920s, he was the manager of a little grocery store here called Cashway.”
Without so much as half a second of hesitation, Barber Bill immediately points through the window of his shop toward the bakery across the street and he says, “That was at the pastry shop.”
Ha! I laughed out loud. “Well, I’m so glad you decided to ask me why I was asking”, I told Barber Bill. “I guess I should have just said I’m looking for where Joe McCarthy worked instead of saying I’m looking for Cashway.” Lesson learned: be direct.
.


.

.
So I took photos from outside and inside the pastry shop and I even bought a cookie. I was in such a good mood now, after my funny encounter with Barber Bill and the surprising denouement of that little episode, that for the first and only time during my entire trip, I flipped up the internal switch on my personality and really turned it on. I got the young gal in the pastry shop to laugh as she sold me “the lonely yellow cookie sitting all by itself on the third shelf down”, which I was about to “give a proper home to”. She was about to put the cookie in a bag but I told her, “Oh, he doesn’t need a bag. He’ll be resting comfortably at home within the next minute.”
.
I walked to the end of Main Street and photographed the Little Wolf River.
.

.
Then I drove to Grand Chute, which abuts Appleton (where my Super 8 was located) and I took some photos of the “T” intersection of Broadway and McCarthy Road where the young Joe McCarthy grew up. What a coincidence to live on a street with the same name that you have, eh?
.


.

.
I had pulled my car just off the side of the road, near a ditch, and after taking my pictures, I got back in the car and bent down by the brake pedal, out of the sunlight where it was darker so I could see how the photos came out on the camera’s display screen. I was down there fussing with the camera when suddenly this twenty-something blonde girl appears at my window, concern written on her face. “I saw the way your car was off the road and you were all hunched down, and I thought maybe you were having a problem.”
.
It turned out that she works for a diabetic person and my appearance gave all the indications of someone having a medical emergency. Ha! What a total sweetheart. I apologized for wasting her time and thought to myself: If only I were 30 years younger, why I would . . . say something sappy and embarrass myself.
.
Some time later, I picked up my Stetson from the Cobbler Shoppe (nice work for just $4.50), and then had a beer at the Old Bavarian Brewing Company where I played “Uneasy Rider” by the Charlie Daniels Band on the jukebox – a tip of the Stetson to the John Birch Society.
.
I had eaten almost nothing that entire day, so that night I went to ‘Toros Mexican Restaurant And Sports Bar’.
.

.

.
I ordered a margarita and the chile rellenos dinner. When the margarita arrived at my table, it was pink. It tasted pretty good . . . but it was pink. Not pale green. This did not bode well for the food that was on its way.
.
And furthermore, on one wall was a framed poster of the Women's National Basketball Association star of the Portland Fire, Jackie Stiles. In other words, not only was this probably NOT an authentic Mexican restaurant, but it DEFINITELY WAS NOT an authentic sports bar. More like a Physical Education bar.
.
Here’s me yakkin’ to myself:
What in the world are you doing here? You ordered Mexican food in Wisconsin? - in Wisconsin?! Mexican food?! You’re a Los Angeles native and a longtime connoisseur of Mexican food. They just brought you a pink – PINK! – margarita. What do you think these chile rellenos are going to be like? You idiot – IDIOT! That’s it, this is the last time I travel with YOU!
.
My Pa had told me once that the best enchiladas he had ever had were served to him one night at a Van de Kamp’s restaurant. Mexican food at Van de Kamp’s? All I can say is that he must have been extremely hungry and that was just the right thing at the right time. /// The best beer I ever had was Henry Weinhard’s pulled from a packed ice chest on Santa Catalina Island circa 1982. Dean and I had gone hiking into the hills, but put the beer on ice just before we left. Many hours later we got back to camp, hot, tired, and sweaty, covered with dust. We pulled the beer out of the ice and inhaled 3 bottles each in less than two minutes. Many, many times I’ve had far better, craft-brewed beer in my life, but none ever went down as well as that Henry Weinhard’s on Catalina Island. I call it “The Van de Kamp’s/Weinhard’s Effect”. It might not truly be the best, but sometimes something is just the perfect thing at just the right moment and you can’t ever beat it again.
.
So, the chile rellenos arrived and I found myself thinking: Damn! These are as good as I’ve ever found in Los Angeles or Arizona . . . or Mexico. Alright, what’s going on? Am I on Candid Camera? Is this The Van de Kamp’s/Heny Weinhard’s Effect? At any rate, those chiles were GOOD!
.
It has been said that one really judges a Mexican restaurant by its chile rellenos. And the first thing I look at is the egg batter they’re fried in: if the batter is really thick, you will hardly taste the chiles at all. Most of the chain restaurants will bring you a chile relleno with the outside breading three times thicker than is the chile itself. What you’re looking for is a thin but tasty breading with a flavorful green chile inside. At ‘Toros Mexican Restaurant And P.E. Bar’, the chile rellenos were just about perfect. The rice was “eh”, the refried beans were good, but far from the best I’ve ever had, but their chile rellenos match up with El Cholo of L.A., or Antonio’s on Melrose, or any of the best I’ve ever had. Or so it seemed to me after just one visit.
.
That evening, I saw my first ever episodes of the reality show ‘Wipeout’ (laughed my head off) and ‘The Office’ (send away for a sense of humor, and pay full price if you must!) and went to bed . . . alone . . . again . . . naturally.
.
Continued below in Part 4.
.
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.
.

4 comments:

  1. I like those towns. Nothing like small middle America towns.

    And Super 8! Nothing but the best for you pal. I serious about the towns though I do like 'em.

    I'm sure the cooks in the Mexican restaurant were authentic Mexicans and knew what they were doing. Man, I'm craving some chile rellenos right now.

    Okay, I'm getting through this pretty fast.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
  2. r-LEE-b ~
    >>And Super 8! Nothing but the best for you pal.

    I figure I'm worth it.

    >>Okay, I'm getting through this pretty fast.

    Lucky you.
    Yeah, it's really more pictures than text.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a friend who grew up in Appleton. I am gonna recommend this blog to her. I'll bet she'll know a bunch of your haunts from the trip. Maybe she's a secret Joe McC admirer... though I doubt it.

    BTW, I love Super 8. They should adopt a new catchphrase and use it in all their advertising:

    "Super 8 - It's good enough!"

    Paulbro

    ReplyDelete
  4. SheboyganBoy 6 ~
    [I think you've just acquired a new nickname.]

    >> Super 8. They should adopt a new catchphrase and use it in all their advertising:
    "Super 8 - It's good enough!"


    Ha!-Ha! I like it!

    A few years ago, Nappy came up with a good slogan for an imaginary air conditioning company that we had no intention of really forming. It went like this:

    "If we make your problem worse, you don't pay."

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'loyal American Underground, Sheboygan, WI.'

    ReplyDelete

--> NOTE: COMMENT MODERATION IS ACTIVATED. <--
All submitted comments that do not transgress "Ye Olde Comment Policy" will be posted and responded to as soon as possible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.