Travelogue -- Day Two, Childhood Memories

Looking Back

Sunday, October 2, 2005                                             Days  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 

Sunday morning saw us up for a quick breakfast and ready for an adventure. It would be the only day we were there that Kathy would be off work, so we wanted to make the most of it. As planned, we drove to South Park, parked, and asked the first strangers that walked by, an oriental couple, to take our picture together. We would run into them several times at the park but resisted the temptation to impose on them again.

Then we climbed down the steps to the spring area. There had been some changes to the ponds but the spring was the same as when we were kids.

Then onto the main event: our hike along the creek. Chris and I had brought the walking sticks we purchased on our last sister trip, and we were glad we had them along. Jumping up and down hills is not as easy over sixty as it was at ten. Kathy saw the wisdom of a walking stick, too, and fashioned one from a limb we found before we got too far into our hike.

There is a bluff that rises about forty feet on one side of the creek that runs through South Park. The cliff above has a trail along the edge that I've been on just a time or two -- and then only part way. We were not supposed to go there and usually didn't even think about it as children. The stories of kids falling and being killed on the rock creek bed were enough to keep me off the trail though we played in the creek below countless times. The stories may or may not have been true, but they served a useful purpose.

It began to rain as we were making our way along the creek. Just light rain, so we didn't go back to the car immediately. Before we left the park we spotted a hill that looked very familiar. It was the hill where we flew kites and also the hill we went sledding down in the winter. That hill was the perfect hill for sledding -- just steep enough to gather some impressive speed, long enough for the fun to last and with enough level ground at the bottom to be relatively safe. Those winter afternoons sledding down that hill were great fun. My favorite part of sledding, though, I must admit, was the hot chocolate we brought along in a thermos.

We drove a couple blocks to Adams Street and through our old neighborhood and past our old elementary school, Berrian. We even got out in the rain to take pictures of the old house, which had been covered with white siding and looked better than when we lived there. When Chris and I posed in front of our old house for Kathy to take our pictues, we saw a slit in the blinds. Someone was watching us and no doubt wondering what we were up to. The river birch tree that Daddy had transplanted from the river to our backyard was still there and was now a giant of a tree. We had to take our pictures from the alley, but we noticed the iris bed was gone and the peonies had been moved to the side of the house. The old shed had been painted gray, not the odd red that Daddy mixed from paint he had on hand and dubbed, "Shit Merkle Dun" for a reason none of us ever knew.

We drove down Maine Street in the rain and talked about taking a walking tour there the next day to get pictures of Quincy's marvelous old houses. After a swing through the old soldiers home, a place we visited many times as children, we decided to have lunch at an old haunt, The Maid Rite. Our brother, Dave, had worked there, and we had eaten there many times growing up.

As often is the case when on a nostalgic quest, the reality did not live up to the memory. The Maid Rite sandwiches are basically loose hamburger meat on a bun, and tasted no better than that sounds. We did, however order dessert because Kathy had said that the owner made all the pies herself and that they were wonderful. Because I was curious, I ordered vinegar pie along with a fifteen-cent cup of coffee (refills were another fifteen cents). I was rewarded for my sense of adventure with a fantastic discovery. Kathy and Chris both took bites of the pie and concurred. The filling tasted a lot like the frosting on a German Chocolate Cake - rich with coconut and pecans. The owner does not give out recipes, but we determined to find one later on the Internet.

It was still drizzling rain when we left the Maid Rite, but we were optimistic that it would end soon, and drove over to Quincippi Island where there were several old log cabins and outbuildings. The roofs were covered with moss and it was truly an interesting place. We took several pictures in the rain, but when we began to hear thunder and see lightening flashes, we wondered about the safety of standing around under the trees with metal umbrellas. As children Chris and I were at a picnic when lightening hit a tree, seriously injuring several people. Wisdom prevailed and we hurried to the car.

On our way home we went by a pizza place to get a ready-to-be-baked pizza, so we wouldn't have to go out again before supper.

Back at Kathy's house, we went to the web and pieced together a recipe from the various and quite different vinegar pie recipes that we found and made a copy for each of us.

Vinegar Pie

1 pie shell (we made homemade pie crust with 1 cup flour, dash of salt, cut in 1/3 cup shortening, added 2 TBS cold water, kneaded only slightly and rolled out)
6 medium eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 stick butter, melted
2 scant tablespoon white vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, and butter. Beat until smooth. Add vinegar, vanilla. Mix in pecans and coconut, Pour mixture into pie shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until completely set in center. Serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

We fixed another salad to eat with our pizza for supper, and enjoyed more of Kathy's pumpkin bars. We had tentatively planned to meet our brother, Dave, and his wife, Rose, that evening for a half-hour or so, then get together with them the next morning for a longer visit when Kathy would be at work. They had driven over from Springfield. Rose's mother was in the hospital, so they were in town for two reasons. We called him and suggested meeting at Deters for ice cream, but he wanted us to meet them first at the condo where they were staying with Rose's father.

Kathy went with us, and we arrived at the condo where Dave was waiting to present his program of several songs on an electronic keyboard. He has gotten into the hobby big time since he retired earlier this year. I was rather anxious myself to get to the ice cream part of the program, but Dave obviously loved playing his songs for us, and we enjoyed the concert.

Then it was on to Deters. The old Deters at Twelfth and State where we went as kids is a paint and wallpaper store now. We use to stop there all the time on our walk home from school, but we had to settle for the new Deters across town that, at least, served the same delicious ice cream. In fact it was sublime, and we all had a nice time reminiscing around a small round table in a back corner. We stayed at Deters until closing around nine and made arrangements to have breakfast together the next morning before Dave and Rose had to drive back to Springfield.

There was more scrabble when we got back to Kathy's house and then to bed, happy and stuffed to the gills.

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