Columns

2006.06.21 Unfinished business east and west of the Mississippi

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Back in March, I made what I thought would be my last trip to St. Louis for my Aunt Sue’s funeral. I took the time to do a few things I’d probably not get another chance to do, but several things were left undone. Now it appears I’ll need to make another trip due to estate matters. Perhaps someone should warn a certain 79-year-old rock legend.

I’ve written before about how Chuck Berry is always appearing at a club a short distance from my aunt’s house the night after I leave town. In March, I figured I would at least try to track down his star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

This time, I found his star easily, and had lunch at the club he plays at. There I learned that he would be appearing the next night, a few hours after Aunt Sue’s memorial service. Although I’m sure she wouldn’t have minded, I passed on Berry’s performance. Now I may get another shot at catching him. Heck, he’s turning 80 this year, can he stay one step ahead of me forever?

I also missed folk/rock/country singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, appearing the same night at another club just a few blocks from Berry. That might be a bigger tragedy than missing Chuck as I’m sure the Louisiana native doesn’t come to St. Louis that often. Maybe they can book Lucinda at the Fayette Opera House some time.

There’s also a club across the Mississippi in Collinsville, Ill., called Wild Country that runs an interesting ad in the St. Louis entertainment weekly. Instead of giving their address, the ad says “If you can’t find it...You’re too stupid to be here!” Their other slogan is “18 to get in, 21 to get plastered.”

Perhaps I’d better just drink at Aunt Sue’s house. In March, my sister was puzzled by the can of Mountain Dew she found in her refrigerator, knowing Aunt Sue wouldn’t have bought it. I solved that mystery, telling her I had left a can behind the previous November. Expecting me back for her 100th birthday this year, Aunt Sue had saved it for me.

Once, Aunt Sue had given me a Diet Coke that tasted even stranger than usual. After finally finishing it, I checked the expiration date—about seven months past expiration. Compared to that, the barely-expired Dew tasted as good as fresh.

And since Aunt Sue won’t be around next trip to cook, instead of going to a conventional restaurant, a short trip across the river to Sauget, Ill., may be in order. Sauget is home to the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League. Unlike the nearby St. Louis Cardinals, the minor-league Grizzlies concession stand items include a hamburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut bun. Mmmm, doughnut burgers!

And finally, I have a real need to make a return visit to a certain motel in Cloverdale, Ind. I stayed there last November and was unable to close one side of the window drapes. I finally lifted up part of the drapes on the broken side and used the floor lamp to keep it held up against the window.

Later that night, I kept having trouble with the television remote. It became obvious that the batteries were going dead as I kept having to get closer and closer to change channels or adjust the volume. When I was finally ready to turn the television off, the remote wouldn’t work at all. Since there was no on/off switch on the set itself, I had to unplug the television to shut it off.

The next morning, I discovered the hair dryer in the room didn’t work, either. Rather than make three complaints I only told them about the drapes, figuring the next person would complain about the television and dryer. The desk clerk said she’d alert the repairman.

Four months later, I again stopped for the night in Cloverdale and decided to stay at the same motel. Even though they must have more than 100 rooms, they assigned me to the same one I stayed at before. I was sure it was the same one even before I went in, but the fact that the drapes still didn’t work was the proof. The hair dryer was still broken, too, but at least they had fixed the remote.

Now I know what’s most important to motel customers. Or maybe the repairman is only qualified to change batteries. But I’m going to be prepared if I end up in the same room again. This time, I’m taking along a tarp and a roll of duct tape. Better safe than sorry.

– June 21, 2006

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