Monthly Archives: January 2013

Pass the cream and sugar, hold the espresso

teacup_gansonWhen it comes to modern culture, I like to think I’m right up to date.

I know, for example, all about the popular TV show, “Downton Abbey,” and have joined my wife in watching it. Note also that I wrote “Downton Abbey,” not “Downtown Abbey” as I heard an uninformed deejay refer to it.

I also know Sarah Palin’s book is “Going Rogue: An American Life,” not “Going Rouge” as another radio announcer called it.

So I keep up on modern culture, right?

Wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that isn’t entirely true.

I proved it again recently during a visit with family members in Minneapolis.
I found myself in a busy little cafe on a Sunday morning, trying to decide what to order for breakfast.

This was one of those places where you order and pay at the counter, find a table and wait for the staff to bring your food and drink to you.

It’s probably an efficient way to do business, but those sorts of places make me nervous. If you’re at what I call a “normal” restaurant, you can study the menu at your leisure and make a decision. If you need more time, when the waiter or waitress appears to take your order you just ask for a few more minutes.

But at this place in Minneapolis and others like it, you’re in line ahead of a lot of hungry, in-a-hurry strangers who’ve eaten there before and probably know exactly what they want to order.

I feel like 10 sets of impatient eyeballs are on me as I ponder my choices in places like this.

Choosing my breakfast food turned out to actually be quite easy. I chose The Standard. That’s two eggs, a choice of meat and some toast.

Then I looked at the listing of the coffee offerings.

Oh my God! I didn’t even know what most of them were.

So much for my thorough knowledge of modern culture.

In my defense, I did know enough not to order cappuccino. The cappuccino you get at a cafe like the one I visited in Minneapolis doesn’t taste anything like the sweet, warm mixture that comes out of the cappuccino machine at a convenience store. I learned that lesson the hard way a while back.

So on this morning in Minnesota, my son Clint ordered espresso. So to speed things along and not look uninformed, I crossed my fingers and did the same.

When my espresso arrived at the table, I was shocked. The concoction was thick and dark and in a tiny cup and saucer. The cup and saucer resembled dishes from a child’s tea set.

The waitress read the surprised look on my face. “Is this not what you expected?” she asked. I lied. “It’s fine,” I said.

Then I took a sip. Another shock. Yuck!

I’ve never tasted liquid mud, but it can’t be any worse than espresso. Liquid mud might even taste better.

According to Wikipedia, a pressurized brewing process for espresso makes the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup very concentrated.

“Espresso is the base for other drinks, such as a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, or Americano,” the website says.

I must have grimaced after that first taste because the young lady who had delivered the espresso was soon at my side again, unsuccessfully trying to conceal a smile.

“Cream and sugar might help,” she said, pointing to those items on a nearby counter.

They did help. Immensely. In fact, next time I think I’ll order just the cream and sugar. They can keep the mud in a mini-cup.

Copyright 2013 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as a column to north Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Long live Dale Peters, the Flying Farmer

Dale Peters accepts congratulations from promoter Ernie Cook for his 1973 Novice Division championship in Maquoketa, Iowa. Announcer Tom Feller and a trophy girl look on. Photo from Phil Roberts collection.

Dale Peters accepts congratulations from promoter Ernie Cook for his 1973 Novice Division championship in Maquoketa, Iowa. Announcer Tom Feller and others look on. Photo from the Phil Roberts collection.

Dale Peters at speed in 1978.  Photo from the Phil Roberts collection.

Dale Peters at speed in 1978. Photo from the Phil Roberts collection.

A wave from the Flying Farmer in 1979.  Photo from Phil Roberts collection.

A wave from the Flying Farmer in 1979. Photo from Phil Roberts collection.

I raced Dale's truck on Aug. 4, 1979.  Photo from Phil Roberts collection.

I raced Dale’s truck on Aug. 4, 1979. Photo from Phil Roberts collection.

The photo from Dale's obituary.

The photo from Dale’s obituary.

One of the downsides of aging is opening the paper to the obituaries and reading that someone who made a positive difference in your life has died. For me, that happens more and more all the time.

I learned yesterday (Jan. 3, 2013) that Dale Peters of Maquoketa, formerly of Grand Mound, had died. (His obituary follows this.)

I knew Dale as the Flying Farmer, the driver of a racing pickup truck. I had the pleasure of announcing Dale’s races at the tracks in Tipton and Maquoketa for many years, starting in 1978. I even had the honor once of driving his truck in an officials’ race. (No, I didn’t wreck it. But I spun out in front of everyone while running up front and scared myself.)

Most important, I had the pleasure of knowing Dale and his family personally. And I can say without hesitation that he was one of the nicest guys I have ever met on or off the track. I used to call him Mr. Congeniality.

I’ll never forget Dale’s broad smile, his kind words, the spring in his step and, while racing, his wave to the fans every single time he sailed down the straightaway past the grandstand — no matter how busy he was behind the wheel.

I have always enjoyed racing, but it became a little less fun when Dale hung up his helmet and the yellow and white pickup truck quit coming through the pit gate.

GRAND MOUND, Iowa — Dale Henry Peters, 76, of Maquoketa, Iowa, formerly of Grand Mound, Iowa, died Tuesday morning, January 1, 2013, at his home.

Dale was born September 16, 1936, in Clinton, to Lester George Fredrick and Mildred Fern (Bird) Peters. He was a graduate of Welton High School. On September 13, 1959, Dale was united in marriage to Judith Joy Petersen in the Low Moor United Methodist Church. Dale served in the Army in Stuttgart, Germany, for several years, where his oldest daughter was born. Dale farmed for many years at rural Grand Mound, and was self-employed as a mechanic. He also had been employed by Eller Construction at Eldridge and Liqui Grow in DeWitt.

He was a member of the United Methodist Church of DeWitt and a former member of the school board for Central Community Schools. Dale raced stock cars in Maquoketa and Tipton for 14 years and was known as the “flying farmer.” He was an avid collector and restorer of antique tractors. Dale and Judy also enjoyed riding in tractorcades and traveling to many foreign countries together.

Surviving is the love of his life Judy of 53 years; daughters and sons-in-law, Jill and Randy Franzen of Maquoketa, and Jayne and John Watters of Andrew, Iowa; grandchildren, Jarett (fiancee, Riley Diercks), Nathan Watters and Kyle Watters; sisters and brothers-in-law, Millicent and Donald Hunsaker of Casstown, Ohio, Madelyn and Steven Olsen of Marion, Iowa, Nancy and Lonnie Blackwell of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Nadine and Dick Sojka of Solon, Iowa; and nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. Preceding Dale in death were his parents.

The family will greet relatives and friends at the United Methodist Church of DeWitt, from 2 to 7 p.m. today. A Service of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m. Friday, January 4, 2013, in the United Methodist Church, DeWitt. The Reverend Chuck Kelsey will officiate. Military rites and burial will be at Clinton Lawn Cemetery. Schultz Funeral Home of DeWitt is caring for the arrangements.
Pallbearers will be Alfred Casad, Tom Casad, Donnie Haack, Rick Ryan, Russell Rock, Doug Toenjes, Ray Flammang, and Alan Stampe.

Condolences may be expressed and a photo tribute viewed at

Copyright 2013 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.

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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Uncategorized


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