The Legend-News

⇐Archives
Monday, 2003 January 6 : Volume 6, Number 1 Latest⇒

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

Notable News: David Frederick's CONVOY: The Movie, The Music won't be updated for at least a month, although it is still accessible. David's computer died, and he's waiting for his income tax refund before he buys a new one.

Lost & Found

Here's the picture of a poster which advertised an appearance by C.W. McCall at the Clark County Fair, near Vancouver, Washington, in 1977. Someone sent to me, last year, a link to this poster, and I just rediscovered it.

Clark County Fair, Vancouver, Washington, August 1977

I wonder whatever happened to LeRoy Van Dyke?


Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch

New Critters: Frank Reibe of Meckenheim-Merl (which is in Germany, for the geographically-impaired); Carl Engelhardt; and D.W. Daggett of Frazee, Minnesota. Welcome to the club!

Update: The Bill Fries interview and Midland CB commercials that I mentioned last issue are now accessible on Ron Sparks' page. The interview is from the November 2002 edition of the Roehl News Network, and the Midland CB commercial dates from 1976.


Old Home Café: The Next Generation

Previously…

A few readers have encountered these tales of the Old Home Café, and they've asked me "What the $#@!* is going on?", or something like that. For their benefit, and the benefit of anyone who may be reading The Legend-News for the first time, here is what is happening.

In the mid-1970s, a series of television commercials were written by Bill Fries, an advertising executive with Bozell Jacobs of Omaha. These commercials chronicled the adventures of a truck driver, C.W. McCall, who delivered the "Old Home" products of the Metz Baking Company. In each commercial, C.W.'s eventual destination was the Old Home Café in Pisgah, Iowa. C.W.'s girlfriend, Mavis Davis, was a waitress at the Café.

Pisgah, Iowa is a real town, northeast of Omaha, Nebraska, 123 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa, in the Loess Hills area of western Iowa. Many of the "Old Home" commercials were filmed in and around the area of Pisgah. Hinkel's Café, a real restaurant in Pisgah, played the part of the "Old Home Filler-Up An' Keep On A-Truckin' Café" in many of the commercials. To honor the fictitious "Old Home Café" of the commercials, Hinkel's changed its name, and the "Old Home Café" became a real place.

The Old Home Café changed owners is the 1980s, and it closed its doors in early 2002, the victim of a declining economy. The population of Pisgah is approximately 260 people, and its major industry is farming. Tourism is not a major business in Pisgah, although the town is often visited by the fans of C.W. McCall who are looking for the Old Home Café.

Those are the facts. Now, about those "Old Home Café" stories…

Jonathan "Jon" Bach was a web site designer who had quit his job after the failure of a project upon which he had worked for several years. Just prior to his resignation, he had visited Pisgah during a vacation, and he had noticed that the Old Home Café was for sale. Looking for an occupation that was, he hoped, less stressful that his old job, Jon purchased the Old Home Café, refurbished it, and reopened the Café in mid-July. Jon has never before worked in the food service industry, not even in a "would-you-like-fries-with-that?" capacity. He's hoping for the best.

Avis Granelli is an accountant who has lost her job at a large New York firm. She has travelled to Pisgah to live with her parents while she finds a new direction in life. Her current job is a part-time position at the local bank in Pisgah. Avis is divorced. Jon and Avis are aware of each other's existence, but they haven't yet met.

Larry and Jerry Berry are brothers. They're college students, one year apart (Larry is the older of the two), and they're home for the summer. So far, they've hung out with a friend, and worked odd jobs around town. Larry and Jerry Berry have a sister, Merry. We haven't yet met Merry, but Larry has told Jon that Merry and Avis are friends.

Jerry Two is a friend of Larry and Jerry Berry. His last name isn't really "Two", but we're not sure what it is because Jerry doesn't talk much. He's an auto mechanic, and he was working at the local repair shop until he got laid off a few weeks back.

So far, those are the major characters is the story. There are a few minor ones, like Bob the carpenter and the mystery biker that Jon saw on the day that he bought the Café, but they're not important to the story. Yet. Or maybe. Pick one.

A fact to remember: the Pisgah, Iowa that I've described in these stories is not the real Pisgah. Sure, it may seem to be a lot like the real Pisgah, but it's not. The characters and situations which I've presented do not exist, and any similarity is coincidental. (That's lawyer-speak for "it's all a lie, although you are welcome to believe that it's true.")

Got all that? Good. And now, let's continue.


Episode VII: The Boy Scouts Wouldn't Have Done It This Way

The time: 5:01 A.M. The place: Pisgah, Iowa. The temperature: 68 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 Celsius. The anxiety level: high.

Less than one minute earlier, Jon Bach had opened the doors of the Old Home Café for business. He really didn't expect any customers to arrive at this early hour, although he well knew that many of the local population had been up since dawn, an hour earlier. Daylight Saving Time has little meaning for a farmer. Or for a guy who had decided to open a restaurant in a rural area.

The coffee maker had already prepared three pots of caffeinated brew, and the kitchen grill was warming up. Eggs, bacon, ham, and the other necessities of breakfast were stocked in the refrigerator. The tables were set with utensils and napkins and condiments. Everything is ready, thought Jon, including me.

Jon wasn't expecting much business on this first day, nor was he prepared for it. He was the only employee of the Old Home Café; there was no cook, no waitress, no one else to help conduct business. He figured that whatever happened today, he could handle it alone. He'd placed signs in the windows yesterday: "Wanted: Cook, Waitress". Not many jobs were available locally, and he estimated that he'd fill those positions in a day or two. In the meantime, he could handle what few customers he'd get.

He was quickly proven wrong, when at 5:02 A.M. on a warm July morning, six customers walked through the front door. The invasion was on.


Episode VIII: Jon And The Cake Factory, Part One

Six customers at once walked through the door. Well, not really at once (the door wasn't wide enough), but from the first person to the last, the door didn't have time to close and the little bell above the door only tinkled twice.

Jon, of course, leaped into action, grabbing an order pad and a pencil. "Good morning, folks. Take a seat anywhere," he told the crowd, opening his arms wide to indicate that the entire seating area was available. One elderly couple sat in a booth by the window; two working men — wearing ball caps, denim jackets with hooded sweatshirts, jeans with unidentifiable stains and dusty, worn tan leather boots — headed for the stools at the counter; a third man veered off down the side hall toward the restrooms; and the sixth customer chose the table in the middle of the room, right next to where Jon was standing.

Len Alpin shouted a cheery "Good morning!" and thrust out his right hand. "Len Alpin's the name. Insurance man."

"Good morning, Len," said Jon, shaking hands. "What can I get for you? Coffee?"

"You betcha. Black as the night," said Len, grabbing a upside-down coffee cup on the table and flipping it over.

"Thank you," said Jon. "I'll be back in a minute." He headed for the counter, and as he picked up a carafe of coffee asked the two men at the counter what they might want. They both grumbled "coffee"; Jon quickly poured the cups then walked back to Table 6, at which Len Alpin sat.

"Refills are free, Len. I hope that you don't drink too much," said Jon, smiling.

"Nah, two cups is my limit," said Len. "Anymore, and I'd stay awake all day."

"Anything else?"

"Gimme a minute to down this cup, and we'll see," said Len. Jon excused himself and walked over to the window booth. So far, so good, he thought. I can handle this.

Jon had just said "Good morning, folks. What can I get you?" when the door bell tinkled and two more customers entered.

Song A’ Th’ Week

Comin' Back For More
(Bill Fries, Chip Davis)
From the album The Real McCall: An American Storyteller

On a cold winter day, do you ever fire up the old Weber grill and pretend that summer's still around? And do you invite a few friends over? Well, Al Packer had one of those days.

Alferd Packer 'Way up in the snow
Where the scrub oaks grow
And the coneys and the picas play
Where the marmots abound
All a-diggin' in the ground
And the wind blows cold all day

There's a little pile a' stones
On a little pile a' bones
That's a-what the archaeologists say
But the folks in Lake City
Well, they sing a different ditty
It would like to make your hair turn gray

Now, it's kind'a hard to find
But it'll altercate your mind
If you happen to go the right way
You take Slumgullion Pass
And don't stop for no gas
Until you get yourself to Al's Café

It was the genuine, original
Highly pathological
Finger-lickin' digital café
It was Al Packer's Legendary
Coronary Fast-food
Cannibal Bar and Buffet

Some dark night
You gonna see a weird light
Up on Cannibal Plateau, they say
It's a scrub oak fire
Like a funeral pyre
Old Packer's been a-cookin' all day

A-when the coyotes howl
And the cougar's on the prowl
They ain't lookin' for your customary prey
Nah, they're waitin' for bones
In a pile a' hot stones
At old Al Packer's Café

[Chorus]

Comin' back for more
Comin' back for more
Baby, comin' back for more
Al's Café
Comin' back for more
Comin' back for more
Baby, comin' back for more
  Old Al Packer
Was a real bone-cracker
Got lost in a blizzard one day

When the boys went to get 'im
Old Al just et 'em
And he buried all the bones in the clay

Now you know them fellas
Wasn't toasted marshmellas
And they didn't fall asleep in the hay
But it had been a hard winter
So he had 'em all for dinner
And they didn't find their boots until May

Well, the folks in Lake City
Showed very little pity
So they sentenced him to hang next day
But before they could noose 'im
Old Al got loose an'
He's a-lookin' for you, today

Boohoohaha [Courtesy of Chip Davis.]

[Chorus]

Comin' back for more
Comin' back for more
Baby, comin' back for more
Al's Café
Comin' back for more
Comin' back for more
Baby, comin' back for more
  Now 'way up in the snow
Where the scrub oaks grow
And the coneys and the picas play

Where the marmots abound
All a-diggin' in the ground
And the wind blows cold all day

There's a little pile a' stones
On a little pile a' bones
That's a-what the archaeologists say
But the folks in Lake City
Well, they sing a different ditty
It would like to make your hair turn gray

Now, it's kind'a hard to find
But it'll altercate your mind
If you happen to go the right way
You take Slumgullion Pass
And don't stop for no gas
Until you get yourself to Al's Café

It was the genuine, original
Highly pathological
Finger-lickin' digital café
It was Al Packer's Legendary
Culinary Fast-food
Cannibal Bar and Buffet

Some dark night
You're gonna see a weird light
Up on Cannibal Plateau, they say Boohoohaha
It's a scrub oak fire
Like a funeral pyre
Old Packer's been a-cookin' all day

And when the coyotes howl
And the cougar's on the prowl
They ain't lookin' for your customary prey Aahoohoohoohoo [Yeah, it's Chip.]
Nah, they're waitin' for bones
In a pile a' hot stones
At old Al Packer's Café Bleah! [Could it be... Davis?]


Next Issue

The Ultimate C.W. McCall Playlist; Old Home Café: The Next Generation; and singing the winter blues.


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, cheaper by the dozen. Contents Copyright 2003 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music. "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a frog!"