Thursday morning we left much later than planned, due to some complications at home. Thus, we arrived in Springfield quite late, missing the "Meet and Greet." Oh phooey. (Not really. I was relieved, not being a fan of gatherings where I must mingle with strangers.)
We parked the van and stepped out into oppressive heat and humidity. Trees flanked the hotel entrance; the lobby glowed with warm colors and attractive lighting, and I could see glimpses of striking artwork. As I stepped onto the brick patio in front of the doors, I heard the sounds of classical music piped over a speaker. Waiting with our luggage, I stretched my back and thought, 'This is a very nice place. That sounds like..." Suddenly zzzzzzZZZZZZZZZaaaaAAAAA--a thousand cicadas simultaneously erupted in sound! I jumped in surprise. Chopin's "Nocturne" was completely drowned out by the insistent, LOUD buzzing. "Well, I'm back in the South!" I thought. "Wisconsin sure doesn't sound like this."
WI towns are neat and clean. MO towns are less so.
MO yards have trees and grass. WI yards do too, but most also have flowers. I noted that very few people had flower beds or hanging baskets or pots of flowers. In Wisconsin, many home and every business or church or civic building has flowers at the entrance or on the porch. The police station has flowers. I suppose this is because we only see them for 3 or 4 months a year. We get tired of white and grey, and we want color while we can get it!
WI people have Labrador retrievers. MO people have hounds and terriers.
In MO the waitress asks, "Would you folks care for anything else? Some more coffee, or some dessert?" In WI the waitress asks, "Do you want anything else at all?"
In MO the women wear skirts, heels, make up, and jewelry. In WI the women wear jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. In MO the men wear golf shirts and slacks. In WI the men wear jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes.
Many WI people are overweight. This is a result of eating cheese and bratwurst and drinking beer. Many MO people are overweight. This is a result of eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country gravy, hot bread, chocolate cake and drinking sweet iced tea. (No, my matronly figure does not come from beer.)
WI people drink beer and Mt. Dew or Pepsi. MO people drink Dr. Pepper or iced tea.
MO towns have lots of churches. WI towns have lots of bars. I thought Springfield must be a great place to live, what with all the churches. But I also noted a slew of "adult" bookstores, and I saw that the strip club on the main drag in Springfield still seems to be doing a great business. Hmm.....
Our area of Wisconsin has lots of technical colleges. Springfield has so many institutions of higher learning (including the University of MO and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) that I lost count. Perhaps all the colleges are the reason for the strip club? Sigh.
Churches in Wisconsin, for the most part, seem to be using the NIV or some other more contemporary translation. Many churches in MO seem to be of the "if-the-King-James-Bible-was-good-enough-for-Paul-it-is-good-enough-for me variety. Churches in Wisconsin are overwhelmingly Catholic or Lutheran. Churches in MO are overwhelmingly Baptist, Methodist and various stripes of Pentecostals.
A not-to-be missed experience when visiting Springfield is a trip to Lambert's, "The Home of the Throwed Rolls." We arrived at noon on Saturday and waited and waited and waited some more. It's worth it, and the people-watching helps the time go by. In the first two minutes I saw two really sorry t-shirts. I guess sometimes MO women wear t-shirts too. One had two large jug pictures placed strategically on the front of the shirt. Whatever. The next was on a senior citizen, and my first glimpse was from a distance, causing my mouth to drop. Then I took a second look and realized it was a shirt, not the real thing. The shirt pictured a voluptuous female body, front view and back view depending on which way the wearer stood. The body was scantily clad in a crocheted thong bikini. Argh. I later saw two other large family members wearing slightly different versions of this charming shirt. DH looked, looked at me and rolled his eyes, whispering, "now that's attractive." They had several little girls with them.
Women, do not work at perpetuating stereotypes and making us look foolish!
I cheated. I pretended to be taking Ken's picture, but really I wanted to capture this "Ozark" guy! He looked down just at the wrong moment, but you get the idea. Outside, he had been wearing a large, broad-brimmed hat, and he looked like a photograph from a book!
Inside Lambert's the walls are covered with a collection of license plates, and the place is a wonderland of antiques, old photos and interesting junk. The servers are good, the atmosphere is noisy and fun, and the dance-party music plays non stop. I decided the subliminal message was, "Come in, have fun, eat fast, move out." My feet tapped the entire meal to the mix of oldies, pops and r and b.
The food is so southern as to be stereotypical. It is wonderful. Well, it tastes wonderful. I hate to think of what it was doing inside our arteries. The menu includes lots of entrees and so many "side orders" I couldn't choose for a while. Then there are the "pass arounds" which the servers bring in tin buckets, calling out the selections as they make the rounds of the wooden booths. Choices include all-you-can-hold of fried okra (yum), fried potatoes, fried cinnamon apples, pinto beans, macaroni and tomatoes, gravy, sorghum (who eats that?) and the famous "throwed rolls." These come out of the kitchen piping hot. They are large, yeasty, soft--and the servers will not hand you one. They throw them to you. No exceptions.
Note the meals served in skillets, and the enormous glasses of iced tea. Ken is about to bite into one of the famous throwed rolls. (Why does he look like he only has one tooth?) Our friendly waitress informed us that in seven years at Lambert's she had only served 32 desserts. No kidding!
There was one BIG problem at Lamberts. What do you suppose was on the table to spread on the rolls? Margarine! That is just wrong. I mean, it's not like we are trying to avoid calories, what with the the fried everything and the size of the servings! Country Crock on those rolls should be against the law. Next time I may bring my own butter!
I'm at the exit, and I'm full. It is bad to go to this place too often, I've been told. I don't doubt it! I have lost about 10 lbs in recent weeks, and I probably gained half of it back.