May 14, 2021, Cloverdale, IN- Looking around this morning, in Joplin, for a breakfast place, I checked out one strip mall, across from Budget Inn and found it completely empty. A block to the west is Granny Shaffer’s- which, down to the feisty Filipina manager, is one of those “home away from home” places that serve as anchors, both to locals and to people like me, who keep mental sticky dots on the map of memorable spots. Like Gramma’s Kitchen, in Banning, CA; Harpoon Henry’s, in Dana Point; The Beachcomber, in Newport Beach; Fricker’s, in Richmond, IN; D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre; Bedford Diner, Bedford, PA; and Prescott’s own Zeke’s Eatin’ Place and Raven Cafe, Granny’s holds a strong place in the culinary register. With me, good food is one thing- but it’s the human connection that matters most.
I set out, after breakfast, as my cousin who lives east of Joplin was hard at work. Getting to Rolla, a bit after Noon, I found that another friend’s place, Cupcakes and Cravings, had gone under, due to Covid. So, it was onward and eastward, through a short bottleneck near downtown St. Louis and a somewhat longer, but not excruciating, traffic jam, due to bridge construction, once on I-55/70. When I-70 became separate from I-55, the traffic flow was much lighter. I enjoyed a healthful dinner at Niemerg’s Steak House (grilled catfish), Effingham, IL, with another standing welcome to come on back, whenever I’m in the area. That puts Niemerg’s on the above-mentioned roster. My server, L, never stopped working and told her manager that she didn’t need a break. I’ve said before, that there is no dearth of a work ethic among the younger generations. This is just more proof.
Another aspect of this road trip is mask-wearing. I have put mine on, when I see a sign requesting it. So far, Arizona and Oklahoma leave it up to the individual; New Mexico, Illinois and Indiana have posted signs asking that masks be worn indoors; Texas and Missouri pretty much have no state-wide mandate, but some individual businesses expect people to don masks, when indoors.
Here in the Super 8, Cloverdale, mask and gloves are required when getting our breakfasts (to take back to the room), and when in the lobby. I am fine with this. We will get through the rest of t.his, only with courtesy