Summer is here with its toasty temperatures which causes sweat to drip down our forehead, humidity-drenched clothing, and parched throats. It also means taking time off to visit loved ones in other states.
My wife Pam and I recently abandoned the 107-degree, mid-May temps in Phoenix to fly to Indiana to visit our two sons, other relatives, and friends from yesteryear. We lived about 25 years in Indiana and Michigan.
We traveled almost 1,000 miles by car from place to place. My preference was taking country roads when possible. We drove through Danville, Ind. where traffic was backed up for the “Mayberry Days in the Midwest” celebration centered at the Mayberry Cafe.
Yep, the café and celebration were a fitting tribute to the old Andy Griffith television program which featured ‘Sherrif Without a Gun’ Andy Griffith; the clumsy, single-bullet-in-the-front-pocket-carrying deputy Barney Fife; Aunt Bee; and the rest of the gang.
The café offered heaping helpings of comfort foods, including Sherriff Andy’s prime rib dinner and Aunt Bee’s fried chicken. Patrons who wear a Goober Pyle-style goofy hat on Wednesdays enter a drawing for a free meal.
Not only did the café food satisfy the belly, but the eyes bulged too. Parked in front of the café were five Mayberry Sherrif's Department squad cars belonging to Mayberry fans and the cafe.
Absent from the vehicular lineup was the motorcycle and sidecar which Andy and Barney drove in the series to write tickets to speeders travelling the dirt roads.
Driving the back roads south of there provided a glimpse of rural America - Midwest style - with the iconic red barns and spread out grain operations.
This past winter was probably the worst in Indiana history with record snowfall and heavy spring rains. Some farm fields were flooded as tractors with disks or planters in tow were parked on the field edges. Hill ground had three-inch corn reaching skyward hoping to expedite the photosynthesis process.
There were funny and blunt sights along the way. Two hotels several miles apart were named the Land “O” Nod Motel and the Sleep “N’ Time Motel. A 50-foot tall wooden rocking chair adorned the building which housed Long’s Furniture.
Several signs caught our attention. One perched in front of a church preached, “7 Days Without Prayer Leaves One Weak.” The message pasted across a large billboard above a ‘lit’ cigarette said, “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” Smaller print below said, “6 Million People Killed Each Year.”
A sign in front of a small restaurant promoted fresh-grilled pork tenderloin. During my years in Indiana, the tenderloin by its self was almost the size of a large dinner plate. The bun drooped over the sides.
This trip was just one example of the spirit, charm, and lifestyle which is alive and well across our nation. It’s always fun visiting other places and learning about its unique aspects - pieces of our nation’s bigger puzzle.
God Bless the USA!