Thursday, December 07, 2006
A Kellogg By Any Other Name.....
(Maynard Dunn, a rose amongst the thorns of my life on the road.)
With the exception of Deaf Jim, I've never met anyone or anything conceived on railroad tracks that I didn't take a shine to. The beautiful town of Kellogg, a bustling station town built back in 1865 along a section of the Trans-Iowan Railroad, was no different. A nice break sure was a welcome treat after the sordid affairs which took place in Adair just two weeks past.
Being on the road during the holidays has been a burden. I miss my friends back in Belvidere something fierce. My stop in Kellogg was the first time in many weeks that I haven't had to fight back a craving for some of Ronda's $3 Dollar Meatloaf. Hell I'd have paid $30 Dollars for a slice if you had asked me last week. Now you couldn't pay me to eat the stuff. Not with my memories of Kellog on my mind and the crumbs of the fine meal I shared with a new friend still stuck in various places in my beard.
Kellogg's town slogan is "A Great Place to Live", and it is an accurate one. Just ask any of the town's more than 600 full time citizens and they'll tell you. Just don't ask Maynard Dunn, the town historian and curator of the Kellogg Historical Museum, unless you have a few hours of time to kill. I did and I enjoyed every minute of it but not just because he shares the name of my recently departed brother. Maynard, not my brother but Mr. Dunn, a former member of the now defunct Iowa Wild Roses, a law enforcement team similar to the Texas Rangers and named for the state flower, was gracious enough to treat me to a meal at Smacky's Shoppe and Grille. This was the Kellogg equivelant to Ronda's but didn't serve meatloaf.
Instead the menu featured a variety of ways to prepare Eastern Goldfinch, the official state bird. The diner was made entirely of Oak which, as you probably have already figured, is the official state tree. I had Goldfinch soup with Canary Crackers and a side of Fried Finch Fritters(the house specialty) with Golden Finch Sauce for dippin'. I believe the sauce was mayonnaise based but can't be certain. Agnes always knew these things. Maynard ordered off menu having baked chicken. Our waitress, looking rather perturbed, stormed off muttering something about the chicken not being anybody's official state bird. I was tempted to remind her that the Blue Hen Chicken is the state bird of Deleware however chose not to as to avoid having her spit in my soup.
The Iowa Wild Roses was an effective albeit short lived band of lawmen that shut down train robberies and late season turnip picking for over a month before being disbanded primarily due to infighting over the name. Some felt that it didn't serve as a true representation of their fighting spirit and grim determination to put a stop to the lawlessness that plagued the Iowa of the early 20th century. Others felt that it was cute. They were hung and set up on posts to warn others. Maynard thought it was ambrosial which was acceptable because although definition number one in the dictionary available at the time was "especially delicious or fragrant", definition number two was "worthy of the gods; divine". He was merely shot in the leg and left for dead in the wilderness.
Maynard was pleasant company and ate his heaping portion of poultry as if he had not had food in days. It was refreshing to see a man well into his second century of life relish his meal in such a way. I only hope that when I am that age, God willing of course, I will be able to eat baked chicken with a knife and fork as opposed to a straw. He seemed to enjoy the bones most of all, knawing on them until he could extract the flaversome marrow with his nimble tongue. His tongue was fascinating and almost hypnotic as it darted in and about his gaping face hole, catching rivulets of gravy with uncanny almost preternatural accuracy.
Some say the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. I think they are wrong but it is still an amazing piece of machinery. And one that would be difficult to live without. As I sat there imagining life without a tongue, and the speech related sequelae, my thoughts wandered to Deaf Jim. Why does he haunt my dreams so? I don't care about Agnes. I've moved on. Then why? And then I remembered something. Something vital. And I knew where my next stop would be.