The Legend-News

Monday, 2002 May 20 : Volume 5, Number 11

What We Got Here in this edition of The Legend-News.

Caution: this newsletter contains subtle humor. You have been warned.

God Bless Truckers

[Norm Schneiderhan (the organizer of The World's Largest Truck Convoy) sent this story to us.]

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie.

His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But, I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down Syndrome.

I wasn't worried about my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ," the pairs of white shirted businessmen on expenses accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with.

I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks. I shouldn't have worried!

After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger and within a month, my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customer's thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles form the truck stop.

Their Social Worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted that they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home.

That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August. The first morning in three years that Stevie missed work. He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Down Syndrome often had heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery and in recovery doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of the 50-year old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.

Frannie blushed, smoother her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look. He grinned. "O.K. Frannie, what was that all about?" She replied, "We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and is going to be O.K."

I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about? Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed. "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be O.K.," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face. "What's up? I asked. "I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off." "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup." She handed the napkin to me and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something for Stevie."

"Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something for Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply, "truckers!"

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is suppose to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a Holiday. He called 10 times in the past week making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work, met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting. "Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast" I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute." To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me."

I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room. I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession.

We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded napkins. "First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess, " I said. I tried to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, tow $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, than at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. "Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.

Best worker I ever hired. Plant a seed and watch it grow. At his point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it fulfilling the need! If you shed a tear, hug yourself because you are a compassionate person.

C.W. McCall Tour 2002 and Other Events
The highways and byways that we used to roam.

18 days to go! You in or you out?

The C.W. McCall Tour 2002 is a two-day event, taking place on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8. Our base will be in Omaha, Nebraska, and we'll be buzzing around the east end of Nebraska and the west end of Iowa in a whirlwind trip, visiting the towns that C.W. McCall has mentioned in his songs. From Fiscus to Jacksonville, Quick to Correctionville, but not necessarily in that order.

The official residence for the McCall Tour 2002 is

Super 8 Motel - Carter Lake/Eppley Airport
3000 Airport Drive
Carter Lake, IA, 51510 US

It's about two blocks away from Eppley Airport. Although the address is "Carter Lake, Iowa", the motel is on the Nebraska side of the Missouri River. Strangely enough, there is a section of land that's west of the airport (which is in Nebraska) that's actually part of Iowa.

See the Tour 2002 section for more information, and warm up your vocal chords by downloading the karaoke version of "Convoy" (provided by Alan Chafin) from the TechRen FTP site.

And, The World's Largest Truck Convoy is in Orlando, Florida on July 20. See the February 18 issue of the Legend-News. From news reports that we've read, the one's going to be big. So big, that Special Olympics International might be sponsoring many such convoys in the years to come.

World's Largest Truck Convoy logo

Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch
What the fans are doing.

Got a story to tell? Send it to

John Billings, whom you may remember as the guy that's selling those Rubber Duck hood ornaments, has changed his e-mail address. Formerly <>, he's now

Starla Hendrickson had another Brush With Greatness. Starla, you may recall, works for the Live! With Jim Thompson radio show.

I have this on tape: Willie Nelson called the studio and was on live with us 3 weeks ago. We did not know he was going to call, it just happened and while I was freaking out and about ready to switch to Depends undergarments, Jim handled it like any other call to the show.

… and then there's the incident of Livin' La Vida McCall…

Just today [May 6th], I was at the studio with Jim and a couple of local cowboys stopped by to solicit money for a memorial rodeo they were planning. One of the cowboys mentioned a former rodeo legend, Jerry Wayne Olson. Jim said, "Where's he at these days?" The cowboy responded, "Somewhere around Omaha." Jim and I looked at each other at the exact same time and said in perfect C.W. McCall fashion "OMAHA?!", just like in "Convoy". It was soooo funny. The cowboys didn't get it, but we did.

Song A’ Th’ Week
Words without music. Call 'em poems.

About 73-and-a-half years ago, Bill Fries was born in Audubon, Iowa. Audubon is a small town that's west of Des Moines and northeast of Omaha, Nebraska, and about halfway between both towns. U.S. Highway 71 runs through it, and Interstate 80 passes by about 16 miles south of it. But back in 1928, Interstate 80 didn't exist. If you were in Audubon and wanted to drive to Des Moines, you'd take Iowa Highway 44 and the "scenic route".

Audubon's a bit larger today than it was in 1928. It's still a "small town", though. And if you were there, you could stop outside 103 Leroy Street and take a look at an unremarkable house. It's nothing special; unless you knew that the family of William Fries lived there.

(C.W. McCall, Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album Rubber Duck

Well, I was born in a town called Audubon
Southwest Iowa, right where it oughta been

Twenty-three houses, fourteen saloons,
And a feed mill in nineteen-thirty.
Had a neon sign, said "Squealer Feeds"
And the bus came through when they felt the need
And they stopped at a place there in town called The Old Home Café

Now my daddy was a music lovin' man
He stood six-foot-seven, had big ol' hands
He'd lost two fingers in a chainsaw but he could still play the violin
And Mom played piana, just the keys in the middle
And Dad played a storm on his three-fingered fiddle
'Cause that's all there was to do back there folks, except ta go downtown and watch haircuts

So I was raised on Dust Bowl tunes, you see
Had a six-tube radio an' no TV
It was so dog-goned hot I had to wet the bed in the summer just to keep cool.
Yeah, many's a night I'd lay awake
A-waitin' for a distant station break
Just a-settin' and a-wettin' an' a-lettin' that radio fry.

Well, I listened to Nashville and Tulsa and Dallas
And Oklahoma City gave my ear a callus
And I'll never forget them announcers at three A.M.
They'd come on an' say "Friends, there's many a soul who needs us
"So send them letters an' cards ta Jesus
"That's J-E-S-U-S friends, in care a' Del Rio, Texas."

But the place I remember, on the edge a' town
Was the place where you really got the hard-core sound
Yeah, a place where the truckers used ta stop on their way to Dees Moins
There was signs all over them windowsills
Like "If the Devil don't get ya, then Roosevelt will"
And "The bank don't sell no beer, and we don't cash no checks."

Now them truckers never talked about nothin' but haulin'
And the four-letter words was really appallin'
They thought them home-town gals was nothin' but toys for their amusement.
Rode Chevys and Macks and big ol' stacks
They's always complainin' 'bout their livers an' backs
But they was fast-livin', strung-out, truck-drivin' son of a guns

Now the gal waitin' tables was really classy
Had a rebuilt motor on a fairly new chassis
And she knew how to handle them truckers; name was Mavis Davis
Yeah, she'd pour 'em a coffee, then she'd bat her eyes
Then she'd listen to 'em tell 'er some big fat lies
Then she'd ask 'em how the wife and kids was, back there in Joplin?

Now Mavis had all of her ducks in a row
Weighed ninety-eight pounds; put on quite a show
Remind ya of a couple a' Cub Scouts tryin' ta set up a Sears, Roebuck pup tent
There's no proposition that she couldn't handle
Next ta her, nothin' could hold a candle
Not a hell of a lot upstairs, but from there on down, Disneyland!

Now the truckers, on the other hand, was really crass
They remind ya of fingernails a-scratchin' on glass
A-stompin' on in, leavin' tracks all over the Montgomery Ward linoleum
Yeah, they'd pound them counters and kick them stools
They's always pickin' fights with the local fools
But one look at Mavis, and they'd turn into a bunch a' tomcats

Well, I'll never forget them days gone by
I's just a kid, 'bout four foot high
But I never forgot that lesson an' pickin' and singin', the country way
Yeah, them walkin', talkin' truck stop blues
Came back ta life in seventy-two
As "The Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café"

Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin'
Oh, the Old Home Filler-up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café

"Audubon" can be found on the album The Best of C.W. McCall.

Next Issue

Convoy Week! For those of you who missed the VH1 series, "The 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders", we're providing a transcript of the part about Number 73 on the list. You know what that song was. Plus, the final instructions for C.W. McCall Tour 2002.

The Legend-News is published fortnightly — unless the fortnight is the fifth Monday, in which case it's published fortnightly-and-a-half — by TechRen Enterprises, a cruise ship of Bahamian registry. Contents Copyright 2002 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music, and thanks to a Large Multinational Record Company That We Can't Name Because They Might Notice Us for not suing our pants off. "Hey, Wild Bill! Wait for me!"