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Monday, September 6, 2010

Breakfast at Bob's

Our old friend and a good friend Jack has retired from being a lawyer and is doing a lot of traveling and writing. We recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours with him and his family here in the Rose City on one of their travel swings. Right now, he and his wife Belinda are on a cross-country drive from their California home to the East Coast. Jack's been writing every day, and yesterday's posting had an interesting tale in it:

Before letting go of South Dakota, I must mention our breakfast at Bob's in Sioux Falls this morning. Since our B&B lacked B, Belinda located a spot on the way to the interstate called Bob's. From the outside it was unprepossessing to say the least. Inside was a tiny space with one table and a short-order stove surrounded by a counter full of grizzled local farmers who looked like they ate breakfast wearing a hat every day for thirty years, and probably in that same seat. There were a few spots open at the counter so we sat, feeling from Mars. No one acknowledged us, and their own interactions were monosyllabic at best. The guy sitting next to Belinda had a KOREA VETERAN baseball cap on and looked like a poster boy for emphysema. We ordered, and the food was pretty good. A young couple with a baby came in, and he started asking questions of the older guys -- turns out everyone knew each other, except us of course. After we finished, the short-order cook came over and asked : "How'd I do?" We said fine and he asked us where we were from, and when we told him everyone looked up. The cook brought over a notebook for us to write in. The entries went back to 2002. I wrote something. By now, we're part of the family. The cook picked up Belinda's Fodor's and asked if Bob's was in it. It isn't, but he told us that Bob's IS in the standard roadtrippers' bible called Road Food. Not only in it, but, he said, in it consistently for 42 years! Well, maybe, but it was a terrific place. When we left, everyone gave us a big send off.

Now I will do my David Brooks imitation. When we first sat at the counter and were being ignored, I picked up the sports section of the local paper for something to do. I learned that the local college football team, the U of SD, had its butt kicked yesterday. The headline was: "Coyotes See Positives After 38-7 Loss To Central Florida." I'm thinkin', hmm. On the west coast or east coast, I don't think the headline would be about positives after a licking like that. This is my fourth driving trip across the country, and each time I am reminded that there is a fundamental WYSIWYG decency and optimism in the middle of our land that is not in evidence in the big cities on the coasts. There's a groundedness and a patience out here, and it may very well be one of our most valuable national assets. Maybe I ought to go back some day to Rushmore, set aside my left coast cynicism, ignore all the peripheral crap, and just appreciate those monumental granite faces for what they are. Okay, now it's time for the Kurt Vonnegut coda: And so it goes.

Comments (5)

And that's why one of the potential retirement locales we visited during our cross country trip this spring was none other than Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from whence we traipsed north to Bathgate, North Dakota to visit the graves of my grandparents and four of my aunts and uncles. When the time comes I'll miss the ocean but not a whole lot else about living near one or other of the coasts.

"... reminded that there is a fundamental WYSIWYG decency and optimism in the middle of our land that is not in evidence in the big cities on the coasts."

I say it is TOO in evidence in the urban metropolises West or East. bojack in PDX, for example.

Decency. And normalcy, civility, kindness, altruism, harmony, comity, honesty, fairness, etc. ... maybe optimism not so much, in recent months.

My impression is formed also from driving cross-country many times, going places and meeting the locals, reading their newspapers there, listening and observing in their public gatherings.

The disconnect between the real politick I experience and know in reality, versus the demented and distorted false misrepresentation of reality perverted in massmedia sensationalism, is the major problem I confront in social and political discourse.

999 people are good people; 1 is a bad person who might be rehabilitated -- the massmedia invariable dwell on and sensationalize the 1 person to such an extent that massmedia make themselves evil.

Someone happily knows 99 persons and is upset with 1 other person -- constantly that someone discusses and obsesses on affairs involving the 1 troubling person.

If a community was doing fine and good, I swear it would invent something to complain about.

Not that there isn't pains and grotesquerie -- take LIARS Larson, please -- just that in the main the fairness and decency of lives, and fun, outweighs and out-classes the awful about 99 -to- 1 -- most of us agree that radio is for music and that's how we use it.

Just, people, when the sweeping generalizations start in broadcast information: they're lying. Hate-celebrities should be sentenced to a year in South Dakota. Or Minnesota.


I grew up in Southeasten South Dakota...attended U of SD. Why did I leave? If you are gay, have no kids in local high school sports and don't attend church, hunt birds or fish you might as well be from Mars...and for me, they don't want you signing a guest book, either. Give me OREGON any time!

But, fun to visit!

I note from the photo that the cuisine at Bob's includes Wonder Bread. I hope that the rest of the meal kept to a higher standard than this.

Those are Wonder burger and hot dog buns. Nothing wrong with that.

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