Throughout the summer, we’ll be sharing weekly installments of a Route 66 travel journal written by association member Joe Razumich. It’s his entertaining account of a recent road trip from his home down Route 66 to Rolla, Missouri for the 75th anniversary of the iconic Munger Moss Motel. On his adventure, Joe passes through Illinois so you’re sure to recognize many of the places he mentions. So, without further ado, here’s Joe!
Sit back and enjoy a Journey Joe travel adventure. Is Journey Joe a real person? Well, not really. But he’s as real as any nickname, any stage personality, any thought or collection of travel experiences that any roadie might have. The real “Joe” is Joe Razumich, a lover of cars and the open road ever since his childhood, growing up around the corner from a hot rod shop, a busy Broadway, and a railroad track. But really all Real Joe does is drive. And put gas in the tank. And put Mr. Suitcase, Mr. Duffle Bag, Ms. Cooler, Mr. Road Atlas, etc., collectively known as the “Inanimate Objects,” in the trunk or behind the passenger seat. Or, to put it another way, Joe loves to drive. Journey Joe loves to write about it – and take you, Dear Reader, along for the ride.
Friday, June 18, 2021. Day 4. Part 2.
The first event of this weekend festival, at least for me to be participating in, was the downtown cruise-in. Just a short jog down the road, one right and one left. I got behind a General Lee Charger, who was following a rat rod, who was following an orange GTO. That worked out well for me, as the expected entrance was blocked. I followed the little streetwise caravan through a parking lot, slaloming around the parked cars, into a back alley that went past the fire station where the fire truck had not yet been pulled all the way out to block the sneak entrance.
First thing I noticed on the cruise street, was the shade. One side of the street was all shade, the other was all sun oven. I got Angel backed into a shade spot, aided by the owner of the clothing store on the oven side. “Come on in and cool off!” she invited. For being helpful, I accepted her offer, went inside, and bought a nice shirt. Off to a good start.
I spent the next hour or so getting acquainted with the various vintage automobiles and their humans. All friendly encounters and welcoming conversations. I continued my observation walk.
At the far end of the blocked off boulevard, all alone and baking on the sun oven side of the street, was this little blue tent, with one lady standing underneath. With the angle of the 6:00 sun, the tent was offering her no protection at all. My heart went out to her and my feet walked towards her.
She started the conversation as I approached. “Want some water? It’s free!”
“Sure!” I said, “But really I came over here to keep you company, out here all by yourself roasting in the sun. How are you handling it?”
“Oh, I’m used to it.” she said with a childlike smile. There was something familiar about her. But how could that be?
Then I got it. The blue tent said Mercy Hospital. Yes. THAT Mercy Hospital.
“You work in the Emergency Room, don’t you.” I said to her. “Or at least you did, two years ago? Am I right?”
“Yes.” She replied, somewhat surprised. “Well, I’m a manager now, but two years ago, yes I was on the E-Room team.”
“I had a gallbladder attack here in Lebanon, two years ago in May. You took me in at 3:00 am and took care of me. I know it was you!!” I was smiling, ear to ear. So was she.
Magic?!? Could it really be the same nurse, out of everyone in this whole big city, in this whole big world, two years later? Susan was her name, and she certainly looked familiar. I could just sense the compassion in her soul. Maybe it was Susan two years ago, or maybe it wasn’t. But some nurse in that hospital, two years ago, took me in and helped a sick, scared traveler get back on his way. So right or wrong with my memory, I got to make someone’s day, right here right now. Now that’s magic. I touched her hand to thank her and the tears welled up. Certainly, she’s seen that before. She made a lighthearted comment to snatch me out of the emotional moment and gave me my ice cold water bottle. I wandered off to enjoy the cars and my refreshing water.
The rest of my encounters this day were friendly as well. Parked next to me was a high school age young man who came here with his mother, in the 1968 Cougar she bought new. A few spaces down were some of the folks I met at the Munger Moss earlier in the day. The “General Lee” Dodge Charger parked next to Angel on the other side got all the attention and Angel just sat there contented in her space. I spoke to a senior couple who had a splendid 1963 Corvette. By 6:00 I was hungry and thirsty. I wandered into this place called the Twist Fix Nutrition Café. I ordered this white chocolate macadamia protein shake thang that was supposed to fill me up, nutritionally. It worked. One of my FB friends posted a picture of shrimp scampi dinner, and it didn’t faze me one bit. I sat in the Cool Chair, shot the breeze with the owner, and life was good.
I felt a tap-tap on my shoulder. A Journey Joe tap-tap. “Hey buddy, ya think maybe Nurse Susan might be ready for a break?” Oh if I could be so lucky. All charged up from my protein shake, I got outta that chair and on to my mission.
She was still there alright, now joined by two friends. With all the brass-in-pocket that I learned many years ago on the dance floor, I sidled up next to her as she was putting more water bottles into the ice bath.
“Youuuuu haven’t had your break yet. Come on, come with me and I’m getting you a milk shake.” I offered my arm for the gentleman’s escort. Susan knew how to ride a wave, just as well as I do. And so we surfed ourselves down that bustling boulevard, to the Twist Fix Nutrition Cafe. The owner behind the counter recognized me from just a while ago.
“Susan gets whatever she wants!” I exclaimed, to him and everyone else in the café. “She took care of me in the ‘Mergency Room!” She ordered some kind of root beer thing and we waltzed out of there on cloud nine. I told her about wonderful hobby cars and she told me about her 200 acre farm that she works and owns, when she’s not nursing. I introduced her to Angel, told her about some of our road trips. This magic encounter lasted another half hour or so, until it was time for Susan to return to her tent post. I walked her back, hugged her one more time. This train of magic had reached the station. And just like that, my enchanted encounter with Nurse Susan was over.
I don’t know how much longer I stayed at that sweltering cruise-in. If it really was sweltering, I didn’t notice anymore, so joyful was I. Just before dark, I headed on home, just like all the other classic cars. FYI, there’s two reasons why car cruises end at dusk: 1) Us old men can’t see in the dark anymore. 2) The headlights on the old cars ain’t worth a darn. But Angel got us home in comfort and style. Thus ended another day of Kicks on Route 66 Missouri.
Follow along with Journey Joe’s travels! Click to read the following entries in this series as they’re published.