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Friday, April 13, 2012

Out there


If you look real hard, you can see a radio tower in the middle of that picture. Whenever I say "my radio tower," that's the one I'm referring to, even though I have nothing to do with it.

* I was so sad to hear Ernie Edwards, founder of the Pig Hip Restaurant, recently passed away.

I can remember the first time I went to the Pig Hip... like it was just yesterday. We were heading back to Springfield from somewhere up north -- probably Wisconsin -- on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I'm going to say it was the summer of '64. And even though the interstate had long been built by that time, we were on Route 66. Some may wonder why we would take Route 66 when it would have been much faster and easier on Interstate 55. Well, the answer would be because we liked to do things the hard way. (Also, I inherited the "hard way gene.")

Anyway, when we were seated in the restaurant, my dad said we could order anything we wanted off the menu. I chose the ham steak, mashed potatoes with a pat of butter and a side of apple sauce. I had never had a ham steak before, but I was certain I would like it because I like ham and I like steak. Makes sense, right? When they brought it out, I couldn't believe my eyes. This thing was huge. It was so huge, it was bigger than the plate. It was so huge, it could have fed a family of four. And it was all mine. It was good, too. I think I ate four bites and I was stuffed.

I can also remember the last time I was at the Pig Hip. I was with my sister and then brother-in-law. We left Chicago about 4:00 in the afternoon. I'm going to say this was the winter of 1970. We headed south out of Chicago on Lake Shore Drive because we heard the waves on Lake Michigan were big and we wanted to see them. Right about the same time we saw the waves crashing over onto the road, a very large speed boat being towed by a truck, fell off its trailer and went skidding down the road behind the truck, sparks flying.

Going south on I-55, we got caught in a huge snow storm and driving became very slow. What usually was a three to four hour drive, was turning into a six to seven hour drive. Somewhere past Lincoln, we got off the interstate and found ourselves at the Pig Hip. The place was open, but there were very few cars in the parking lot. We parked by the door and my sister told me to go to the phone booth to call my parents and tell them we were safe and would soon be in Springfield. She also said I should come back to the car because they were just going inside to use the bathroom.

I trudged -- no, crawled -- through knee deep snow and blizzard-like conditions out to the far corner of the dark parking lot where the phone booth was. Teeth chattering, fingers numb, I closed the door to the booth and was surprised that when the light came on, it was actually a heat lamp. I held my hands up by the light to try to get warm. And then as I picked up the receiver, I noticed that the dial on the phone had been replaced by a flimsy piece of round cardboard. What a nightmare! I clicked the up and down thing several times up and down, but nothing happened. I couldn't believe it. So, I just stood there in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter, with snow blowing all around, in that little, enclosed space, under that heat lamp getting a sun burn, and waited for my sister and brother-in-law to pick me up.

* Get Your Kicks on Route 66 (Bobby Troup smooth version).

Posted by Marie at April 13, 2012 10:53 PM


I like to get off the interstates and take the state roads whenever possible. Every so often you find a "Pig Hip", or even just a local bar that serves the owner's "Ernie Burger" or some such. They're usually pretty good too.

Posted by: Dave E. Author Profile Page at April 15, 2012 4:40 PM

We liked to do that too, Dave. In our family, another word for that is "lost."

Posted by: Marie Author Profile Page at April 15, 2012 9:57 PM

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