Memory Lane

This is the warmest day this spring. It is 80 degrees with a cool breeze. After traveling to Eldorado to take photographs…I decided that this warm spring day would be ideal for a journey to DuQuoin. Although I never lived in DuQuoin, I visited there more times than I can count or remember between the years 1970 – 2001. While I was still living in Eldorado and attending Eldorado High School I had many friends who lived in Elkville and the town that was seven miles from it, DuQuoin. As a lad from Eldorado…DuQuoin was the ‘Big City’ to me. I rode the Gulf Transport Bus to Carbondale on Saturdays and one of my friends…who could drive…would pick me up at the bus station and I would stay the night and return with my mom when she drove to church on Sunday. You heard correctly…we attended church in Elkville…50 miles from Eldorado. The little non-denominational church was pastored by a friend of the family and we knew many members of the congregation. Thus I had an array of friends in that area of the country and even today I live only about 22 miles from DuQuoin.

I would bring some expense money with me in order to help defray my food costs when staying with my hosts. On Saturday I had about $13 and proudly announced that I would buy the ingredients for a specialty dish that my host Pam was preparing. When she and her husband Michael deposited all of the ingredients into our shopping cart…I discovered that I was sorely short of funds. They laughed and gladly made up the difference. Green’s IGA was the go-to shopping center of DuQuoin in those halcyon days. Each time that I entered his store Mr. Green spoke to me like we were old friends. Ofen we would enjoy breakfast at a local restaurant of some notoriety, Maid-Rite Cafe, and the owner, Frank, would invariably place more bacon or biscuits and gravy or another pancake on my plate after I had taken it to the table and began eating. I later worked at SIUC with a colleague who lived in DuQuoin and often said that ‘The streets were made of gold,’ and I thought the same during my youth. On more than one occasion several of us teenagers would go to Emlings Cafe…which had the dangerous reputation of being open all night…and order breakfast at 3:00 A:M:. The 3:00 A:M: Breakfasts’ seemed especially good…

In Eldorado…I subscribed to the DuQuoin Evening Call and had it mailed to me… a day late…in order for me to keep abreast of the latest news in my ‘Big City’ hangout. Alongis’ had the best Italian Beef Sandwiches and my cousin and I would often avail ourselves of one when we were in DuQuoin. A few years later…about 1975 or 76′ Steve and I were driving through DuQuoin and he asked me if I would enjoy some biscuits and gravy at a little restaurant at the edge of town. I responded that I would very much like some biscuits and gravy and we pulled in and were shown to a table and the kind waitress asked us if we wanted coffee…and we did…and while she went to retrieve the coffee pot Steve asked, ‘You are springing for this …right?’ Springing was our term for paying and I answered that I did not have two pennies to rub together…and he sadly said that neither did he. We left rapidly…before the coffee arrived…


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