"experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." -randy pausch

Sunday, June 23, 2013

THE CANTEEN {ottumwa, iowa on my dinner plate}

Saturday's Census:
DAD-"you've got to get the right bun. no seeds, and they taper off on the sides."
ADAM-"ketchup and onion on top, white raw onions, 
mustard and pickles on bottom, meat last. salt." 
AUNT MARY & UNCLE TOM-"water in the meat to make it juicy. 
they use a mug full at the canteen."
ME-"Velveeta cheese, chocolate milk, wax paper wrapped."
one week out of every summer 
of my childhood was spent in ottumwa, iowa.
those weeks left me with hundreds of amazing memories.
on the way to grandma and grandfather's house the corn would be 2 feet tall.
and on the way back it had always doubled in height.
or tripled.
and miles of corn stalked were endless.
the fireflies.
which we let loose in grandma max's kitchen one year.
she was not pleased.
but us california kids were so very entranced by their little glowing bums.
and catching them in jars was always so exciting.
not sure who's idea it was to bring them inside...
laundry hanging out on the metal spinning laundry rack on the lawn.
jumping on the rectangle trampoline in our swimming suits down by the woods.
waiting for the deer to come lick the sugar cubes.
the red coated lantern man.
we'll leave the description of him at that.
grandfather joe's black model A car.
riding in the bucket seat to get ice cream in baseball cups.
and going to dairy queen over the bridge.
of course i always got the reese's peanut butter cup blizzard.
going to freddy's house for drinks.
laughing so hard with him and grandfather joe that you almost peed your pants.
2 of the funniest men to have ever lived.
sticky humidity that made the heat even hotter.
the beach.
not a beach.
the beach.
a water park.
called the beach.
going to target with grandfather joe to buy toys, and cds when we got older.
buying wooden frames at the craft store with jewels and different colored paints to decorate them with my sister Kelsey.
going to the movies.
eating catfish at the KC on friday nights.
and ordering at least 3 shirley temples from the bar.
{i STILL order those little lovely drinks whenever i go to a restaurant with a bar. i think i am the only person over the age of 11 that does that. i don't care. i love them.}
going to mass with the family.
eating prime rib RARE {b/c the sassy waitress at the greenbriar wouldn't let you order it any other way without giving you a sigh and an eye roll. i think she also wore blue eye shadow.}
sitting in the book nook with sandie, adam, and kelsey for hours picking out new books to take home and read.
sitting in the shade of the big trees in the front yard listening to music and reading my summer AP english assigned books {curse watership down. i learned to hate rabbits that summer.}
borrowing uncle walter's red camero with adam and kelsey once adam and i had our driver's licenses, 
and driving it on empty roads along the open iowa fields.
my dad teaching me how to parallel park grandma max's huge boat of a car. 
i think it was a town and country.
i can parallel park ANYTHING ANYWHERE b/c i learned to do it in that car.
{the key is the line it up and back it up with a curve. works like a charm every time. thanks dad.}
playing 31 around the dinner table with family and friends for quarters.
REAL quarters:) 
which was a big deal b/c usually we only got to play for dimes.
and spending my quarters on toys or cds the next day was always a big to do.
watching the music man, pollyanna, and houseguest on my grandparents tv set that sat on the floor.
watching the birds eat bird seed out of the family room window from the bird house that stood 10 feet tall.
or something high like that.
sharing a room with my sister.
making clothes for our troll dolls.
even little baby diapers.
and playing trolls for HOOOOUUUURRRSSSS:)
playing mario kart with adam and kelsey for HOOOOUUUURRRSSSSS:)
playing with the toys in the kitchen pantry closet that came out in drawers.
oh how i LOVED those old fashioned toys.
grandma must have saved them from when my dad, uncle, and aunts were little.
i especially loved those toys that had the water in them, 
and you put the tiny rings onto the sticks, 
or got the balls to shoot into the hoops by pushing the buttons to surge the balls 
where you wanted them to go with the water.
life before ipods.
i tell you.
reading grandma and grandfather's love letters that they wrote each other during WW2.
one of my favorite memories of my grandparents.
going to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned by my grandfather joe.
and getting to pick out different colored rubber animals to take home as a treat.
walking into the tv room with my grandfather joe sitting in his recliner in ONLY his white sox boxers, 
socks up to his knees, and white shirt.
scotch and ice in his hands?
was that the drink he liked?
i think that's what it was.
watching baseball on the tv.
grandma in her recliner with her cross stitch and crossword puzzles.
grandma teaching me how to cross stitch.
and how to make her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
eating cereal at the little table in the kitchen.
the magnetic strip that organized the knives over the kitchen sink.
going out to the garage for mountain dew, dr. pepper, and MELLOW YELLOW sodas:):):)
the way the garage smelled from the mower just cutting the grass and the hot humid iowa summer air.
the long skinny driveway out to the road.
that sandie once backed grandma's car into the ditch trying to back out from.
oh the memories of that blessed day.
the shamrock on the roof over the garage:)
i might need one over my own garage one of these days.
the flag pole out front.
and last but certainly NOT least...
{in the alley.}
u-shaped counter.
little round stools.
where you order your loose meat hamburger by what you want on it.
1 cheese, ketchup, onion.
1 everything.
1 mustard, ketchup, pickle.
1 ketchup, cheese, pickle.
any way you like it.
they slap it all on, then pack on the loose meat from the trough in the middle of the u-shaped counter, 
salt it, and wrap it.
with a spoon on the side to eat the meat that falls out as you go.
you can have your pick of soda, milk, chocolate milk, or water.
i always picked chocolate milk,
when you're ready for round two it's "reorder how you like it."
reorder cheese, ketchup, onion.
reorder everything.
reorder mustard, ketchup, onion.
reorder ketchup, cheese, pickle.
just the way you like it. 
and we all have a way that we like it.
then you recite your eating history to the cashier in the middle of the u-shaped counter and pay up your bill.
while you're waiting for your coveted seat at the counter you can entertain yourself with memorabilia on the walls, and put a pin in their map showing how far you've come.
write your name in the guest book, the date you came, and your comments on your meal.
{please let me forget the year adam convinced us to be the Regals from england. 
the same ladies that worked there when i was a kid work there today.
at least once while you're there one of the lovely canteen ladies yells, "GREEEEASE OUT!"
and another lovely canteen lady appears from the back to drain the grease out from the bottom of the meat trough in the middle of the u-shaped counter, and disappears with it into the back.
for dessert you can have your choice of pies or malts/shakes, but i never made it that far.
maybe once.
it was always more worth it to fill up your tummy with a reorder than a piece of pie or a malted shake. 
sometimes i can hardly contain my desire to have one of those beloved canteen sandwiches.
so after sandie sent me the news story that a local iowa news station ran on it i set my mind out to make one.
because in june i'm just plain homesick for iowa.
and that's that.
i was going to make myself a canteen sandwich.
and i was going to make it today.
i cooked that meat on my stove,
and then i cooked that meat all day in my crockpot.
i salted it.
i added water to it.
i stirred it.
i nursed that little crockpot of ground beef like it were my own.
i cut up the onions,
i cut up the pickles,
and poured out the spreads into their bowls.
i melted that Velveeta cheese like no Velveeta cheese has ever been melted.
i bought chocolate milk.
i delicately laid out little squares of wax paper.
i pranced around my kitchen like i was 7 years old on christmas eve night.
and let me tell you,
that sandwich of mine.
it was ottumwa, iowa right there on my paper dinner plate.
and then it was in my belly.
i give you,
my homemade 
{inset angel choir singing here}
{1 everything for sean. before i wrapped it up. he reordered twice. good boy.}

{just the way i like it. nom nom nom.}
{i'm pointing at my apron. it's the bomb.com authentic! wear it with pride.}

 we did it guys.
we did it:)
my favorite restaurant of all time:
the CANTEEN LUNCH in the alley.
nostalgia at its finest:)

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