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Monday, 2002 November 18 : Volume 5, Number 23

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

Interesting Things
Elsewhen in history

Bill Fries reached the age of 74 years on this Friday past. You did remember, didn't you? If you subscribed to Poor Gabriel's Almanac, a daily list of important events, you would have found this entry for last Friday:

Interesting things that happened November 15th:

Birthdays on this date:
In 1738 Sir William Herschel, astronomer discovered Uranus
In 1862 Gerhart Hauptmann, German writer (Before Dawn) (Nobel 1912)
In 1887 Georgia O'Keeffe (in Sun Prairie, Wis), painter
+ Marianne Moore (in St. Louis, MO), poet
In 1891 Erwin Rommel, German field marshall, brilliant tactician
+ W. Averell Harriman, governor, cabinet member
In 1919 Carol Bruce (in Great Neck)
+ Joseph Albert Wapner, judge, television justice (People's Court)
In 1925 Howard Baker, senator from Tennessee, presidential chief of staff
In 1928 Bill Fries (in Audubon, Iowa), singer/songwriter (C.W. McCall)
In 1929 Ed Asner, actor (Lou Grant)
In 1934 Petula Clark (in England), singer
+ Joanna Barnes, actor
In 1940 Sam Waterston, actor (Hopscotch)
In 1945 Anni-Frid (in Lyngsdtad, Sweden), singer (ABBA)
In 1946 Janet Lennon, singer (Lennon Sisters)

I'd tell you who was responsible for getting that "1928" entry added, but I'm really humble.

You can subscribe to Poor Gabriel's Almanac by sending a message to majordomo@angus.mystery.com, with

subscribe today
end

in the body of the message.


Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch
What's that in the bushes?

C.W. McCall didn't get enough respect in the '70s, and he still isn't getting enough these days.

Earlier this year, VH1 broadcast a five-part series on the 100 Greatest: One-Hit Wonders. "Convoy", the best-known song by C.W. McCall, appeared at position 73 on the list. But lately VH1 has taken the low road, trashing musical works just because it makes them feel good. They've been running a series of 1 Hit Wonders episodes, each dealing with a particular group of songs such as "Disco Divas" and "Metal Mania". But their aim-for-the-lowest-common-denominator taste is annoying. David Frederick writes

I was wondering when VH1 would air "CONVOY"'s segment in their 1 Hit Wonder Series. I had'nt paid attention in a while, but then I noticed something. For God Sake's they placed it Number 1 in the novelty songs, fine. BUT, they named the catagory "Goofy Greats" (excuse me while I throw up and !@#$%^%&). I had just cursed out a storm, when I saw it under a name like that. I understand they don't show much respect for novelty songs, but to name it that!

Placing "The Curly Shuffle" as the number 7 "Goofy Great" is fine, but including "Convoy" is that category? Whatever sells, I guess.

The full list is on the episode page for Goofy Greats.

Anyone can be a Crispy Critter (that's the unofficial designation for a rabid fan of C.W. McCall); all that you've got to do is ask; and you can ask by sending a request to critters@techren.net. Gary Peterson decided to prove his worthiness to be a Critter:

I'm applying for membership in the hallowed ranks of Crispy Critterdom. I believe I qualify:

  1. I own all six original albums on vinyl, plus The Real McCall on CD;
  2. Enjoyed breakfast at the Old Home Etc. Café in Pisgah, Ioway;
  3. Drive every working day of my life on I-680 and the Super Slab (living in O-Town, they're our major ways around this burg); have driven on old Highway 30 many times in between Carroll, Iowa and Columbus, Nebraska;
  4. Have visited Audubon, Beebeetown, Pisgah, North Platte, Sioux City, Council Bluffs and Shelby County (though failed to get a copy of the Tribune!); and
  5. I see my comrade-in-McCall, Jim Darner (the man with whom I dined at the Old Home), made it on the list and he doesn't even own a single McCall album on vinyl (I at least waited and waited till a copy of the long-elusive Roses For Mama was won off Ebay before applying for membership!).

Of course, Gary was immediately added to the Big List A' Critters. With qualifications such as his, how could he not be a Critter?


Old Home Café: The Next Generation
Kicking the tires

Episode IV: Looking In And Looking Around

This is a serial story by Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental. I hope.

Old Home Café: The Next Generation is brought to you by Yellow Hail Popcorn, the official snack food of TechRen Enterprises (like you really care). When you've a Smokey on your tail and you need a munchie, grab some Yellow Hail Popcorn. It'll blow your doors off.

Previously, in "Old Home Café": Jon Bach, dissatisfied with the company for which he works, has decided to investigate a new line of work: operating a restaurant in Pisgah, a small town in western Iowa. Meanwhile, Avis Granelli, a recently-unemployed accountant, has travelled to Pisgah to visit her parents. They have passed like ships in the night (actually, like cars on a Saturday afternoon); but Jon has returned to Pisgah to examine the site of the once and future restaurant, the "Old Home Café".


Margie Wilson was waiting outside of the Old Home Café when Jon arrived at 9 A.M. that Wednesday. He parked on 1st Street, in front of the Café. "Good morning," he said, as he exited the car.

Margie had been selling real estate for thirteen years now, and she knew that she was good at sizing up a prospect and matching him or her to the property. But this man was a puzzle; he was out-of-place here in Pisgah, she thought. "Good morning to you, too," she said. "You must be Jon Bach." They shook hands. Margie unlocked the front door of the Café and waved Jon inside. "Let's have a look around."

Margie studied Jon with the eye of a practiced real estate agent. He wasn't what she expected to see. She had thought that a person who was interested in the Café would be an almost-retired businessman, looking for a low-stress occupation far away from the smog and traffic of The Big City. Jon, wearing a casual outfit of blue jeans, black mock turtleneck shirt and black Reebok walking shoes, didn't fit her idea of a prospective buyer for the Café. Margie's opinion of Jon was "computer geek"; she was correct, of course, but she didn't know that yet.

Jon entered the Café and Margie followed. He stopped in the middle of the room and surveyed the interior. The main room of the Café wasn't very large; about 15 feet by 30 feet, Jon estimated. The seating was a half-dozen folding tables of various sizes, combined with chairs that wouldn't have looked out-of-place in a kitchen of the 1950s. A bit less than a quarter of the room was occupied by the counter: three stools on the serving side, with a cash register sitting next to the counter on a glass display case. Behind the counter was a Bunn coffee maker and a carbonated drink dispenser.

The glass display case was empty; but on the east wall of the room, between the counter and the door that lead to the other half of the Café, there was a hanging display case filled with newspaper clippings.

Jon walked over to the case and read the headlines on the faded yellow newsprint. He turned to Margie. "Who's C.W. McCall?", he asked, flipping a thumb in the direction of the case. "He seems to be famous."

"Do you remember a song called 'Convoy"'?", asked Margie. "It was popular in the mid-70s."

"I've heard it a few times," replied Jon, studying the clippings. "It's a about a group of trucks that travel across the U.S." He continued to read the articles in the case. "C.W. was one of those truckers?"

Margie pointed to an article entitled "C.W. McCall, Mavis Film Commercials at Pisgah." "Close," she said, "but way off. C.W. was a character that was cooked up for some television commercials about a bread company. Most of the commercials were filmed here in Pisgah, which was supposedly the home base for C.W. His girl friend, Mavis, worked here at the Café. In fact, this 'Old Home Café' was named after the truck stop that was created in those commercials. It used to be called Hinkel's Café." Margie paused, recalling the commercials that she'd seen as a teenager. "Those commercials were real popular around here."

"Looks like they got married," said Jon, pointing to a picture of C.W. buying a ring in a store called "F.E. Miller". "The people in these pictures: they're locals?"

"'Cept for the film crew, yes. A few of them might still be around after 25 years or so."

Jon filed that information for future reference; he decided that when he got back to his hotel, he was going to search the Web for information about this "C.W. McCall". Somewhere out there, someone must have published a page or two about him. And Pisgah used to be famous? Who would've guessed?

Walking through the nearby door, Jon moved into the "& Bar" portion of the "Old Home Café & Bar". As bars go, it was small: twelve stools along the brass rail, plus a couple of booths at the far end. The wall behind the bar had the typical large mirror and glass shelves. A glass-front cooler, empty, sat in the corner. The shelves were empty too, of course.

Jon noted an "ABATE" sticker in the window near the entrance door for the Bar. He'd seen a few motorcyclists in the area last Saturday, and he realized that his guess had been correct: they had probably been hoping to stop for a cold beer here at the Old Home Bar. ABATE was an organization that promoted the rights of motorcyclists, and the Old Home Café & Bar seemed to have been a sponsor.

"All of the appliances: they're included with the building?" asked Jon, stretching his arms apart.

Margie handed him a list. "Everything. It's all listed here."

Jon walked around the bar, examining the building and the fixtures. A little work would be needed, but nothing that he couldn't do. He didn't see any obvious problems, but still...

"I'm not saying 'yes'," he told Margie. "But 'maybe'. I'll have an inspector out here, later this week. After I get his opinion, we'll talk."

Margie pulled out a small wallet from her purse. "Not a problem. Just have him give me a call," she said, handing a business card to Jon, "and I'll arrange the visit. Is there anything else that I can do for you?"

"Not at the moment," said Jon, when he noticed a man outside at the door of the bar. A biker, apparently, wearing a bandanna, leather vest, Harley Davidson t-shirt and shades. The biker looked at Jon, and motioned with his right hand as if he were drinking a beer, a questioning look on his face.

Jon shook his head. "Not yet," he shouted at the biker. "Maybe a couple of weeks." The disappointed biker shrugged and walked back to his hardtail hog at the curb, where two buddies awaited.

As for Margie, she was smiling. She'd set the hook, and now she was ready to reel in this fish.


In our next exciting episode: Avis goes jogging, and Jon meets Larry and his brothers.


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

Maybe the Song A’ Th’ Week ought to be "Happy Birthday", but there's a problem with using that song: the holders of the copyright have lawyers who just love to get a couple of pennies out of anyone who performs or publishes that work, and The Legend-News is just plain cheap. Besides, we would never indulge in copyright infringement (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Audubon
(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

Whatever happens, as usual. Plus Episode V of Old Home Café: The Next Generation. It'll happen on the 2nd of December, a day you'll always remember.


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, that quivering lump of stuff in the corner. 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. "No one tosses a dwarf."