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Mad Marv certainly has nothing to be angry about

Mad Marv. Photo courtesy of madmarvsplace.com.

Were it not for the lighted beer signs in the front windows and a parking lot full of cars at lunch and dinner times, you’d have no idea you had arrived at Mad Marv’s Place, a bar and grill at 102 Center St. in tiny Fruitland, Iowa.

Numerous lunch and dinner specials, which are spelled out in detail on the restaurant’s website, madmarvsplace.com, really pack people in. The evening specials are served 4:30 to 9 or until they are gone.

My wife and I were there on a Friday night and arrived shortly about 4:40. We were among just four or five customers when we went in. But by the time we left 45 minutes later, there were an estimated 50 hungry people on hand, many seated in groups of 6 to 12, enjoying the food and conversation. Mad Marv certainly had nothing to be angry about.

During our visit, my wife ordered a walleye filet dinner for $8. It came with a dinner roll and a choice of two sides: cottage cheese, cole slaw, house salad or homemade seasonal soup, baked potato, hash browns, American fries, French fries or beer-battered sidewinder fries. She chose the house salad and sidewinder fries, which are curly, large slices of fried potatoes.

I opted for the smallest (at 10 ounces) of four available sizes of prime rib, with dinner roll and two sides, for $19.75. They slow roast their prime rib and bring it up to the desired temperature on a charcoal grill. It was delicious and fairly tender. For sides I also had the house salad and sidewinder fries.

Mad Marv’s, which also often offers drink specials, is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but open the other five days of the week. Doors open at 11 a.m. Closing times vary; check the website.

Copyright 2017 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises, Walcott, Iowa.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Trip across Iowa on Historic Route 6 a 2016 travel highlight

1940 Route 6 map

A road trip my wife Sherry and I took on Saturday, June 18, 2016, across Iowa on Historic Route 6 was inspired by “River to River, Iowa’s Forgotten Highway 6” (highway6movie.com). That’s a nostalgic DVD documentary produced by Quad-Cities-area filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle.

The documentary deals with the path the coast-to-coast U.S. Route 6, known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, took across the Iowa counties of Scott, Cedar, Muscatine, Johnson, Iowa, Poweshiek, Jasper, Polk, Dallas, Guthrie, Adair, Cass and Pottawattamie, going through or near some 50 communities.

Before the U.S. Highway System came into being in 1926, roads in Iowa were maintained and promoted by local organizations that sought to drive traffic into their communities.

Dating back to 1910, Iowa’s southern Great White Way and northern River-to-River Road connected Council Bluffs and Davenport. They eventually merged into the Whiteway-7-Highway, which followed the Great White Way from Council Bluffs to Des Moines and the River-to-River Road from Des Moines to Davenport.

When the U.S. Highway System was created, Whiteway-7-Highway was designated U.S. Highway 32. It was renumbered as U.S. 6 in 1931 when it was extended to the West Coast.

After Interstate 80 was built near U.S. 6, the highway’s importance as a cross-state route was diminished. Least-traveled sections of the route were moved onto I-80, and control of the vacated sections of highway went to local jurisdictions.

Interest in the original U.S. 6 corridor, however, has grown in recent years, thanks to people who once again hope to bring traffic back into their communities. They are marking the original route with brown and white Historic Route 6 signs. With the possible exception of the Des Moines area, the Historic Route 6 route across Iowa is very well marked.

Our Historic Route 6 road trip was Sherry’s idea, but I was all for it because we both love travel and tourism. We had a wonderful time visiting many of the roughly 50 communities along the way.

Rather than backtracking to Davenport, our river-to-river road trip on Historic Route 6 began in Walcott, where we live. Here are some of the many highlights:

• Atalissa’s welcome sign reads “Est. 1856, Pop. 271 and 2 Grumps.”
• Ladora is birthplace of Mildred Wirt Benson (1905-2002), author of the Carolyn Keene and Nancy Drew books. Her father, the town doctor, Dr. J. L. Augustine, delivered her at home. The community also has a fine restaurant in a former bank building. More on that later.
• Brooklyn is known for its Avenue of Flags, a permanent lighted display with a huge U.S. flag and the flags of all 50 states and the Armed Services. Also, 35 flags of various countries line Brooklyn’s downtown streets.
• Newton is the home of Valle Drive-In, Iowa’s oldest drive-in movie theater.
• Colfax is where we stopped for lunch. We dined at the Cratty Shack, a small sandwich and ice cream shop. Open April through October and operated by a husband and wife, it has both photos of family members and Bible verses pasted on the napkin dispensers. Menu items are named for family members and include Pizza Patty, Bradley Burger, Ken-derloins, Papa Parfait, Daphne Dippers, Dakota’s Choco Delight and Toni’s Turtle. I ordered the Superman, which is a hamburger and root beer float. Sherry had a Cratty Patty and E (onion) Rings. In addition to friendly conversation, Mrs. Cratty also invited us to sample a new item, pineapple ice cream. It would have been impolite to say no.
• Dexter is the home of Dexfield Park, about 3 miles north of town on what is now called Dexfield Road. An amusement park from 1915 to 1933, it is a Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow historical site. After a gun battle with lawmen in Platte City, Mo., Bonnie and Clyde, Clyde’s brother Buck, Buck’s wife Blanche and an accomplice, W.D. Jones, arrived at Dexfield Park on July 19 or 20, 1933. Buck and Blanche Barrow were wounded, so the gang hoped to hide out until the two recovered enough to travel. They camped out in the woods, but on July 23, a local farmer discovered their campsite by accident and reported it. About 50 lawmen surrounded the encampment, and there was a gun battle. Bonnie, Clyde and Jones escaped on an unguarded path, stole a car at a nearby farm and fled. Buck Barrow, too seriously wounded to go on, stayed behind. Blanche Barrow stayed with him and both were captured. Dexter also marks the beginning of what’s called White Pole Road, a 26-mile scenic byway that connects the communities of Adair, Casey, Menlo, Stuart and Dexter. The route is lined with more than 700 white-painted utility poles.
• Stuart is where you are welcomed by a sign that notes the town is the “Home of 1,700 Good Eggs and a Few Stinkers.” Also, when Bonnie and Clyde returned to Iowa, they robbed the still-standing First National Bank there on April 16, 1934.
• Menlo has a famous sign known as the Gas Station Man advertising White Rose Gasoline.
• Adair is perhaps best known for the smiley face on its water tower, but just outside this community is the place where on July 21, 1873, the Jesse James gang committed the first train robbery in the West.
• Lewis is home to the 1856 Hitchcock House, a National Historic Landmark and a station on the Underground Railroad.
• Council Bluffs was our final destination. We arrived at 6:15 p.m., about 9 1/2 hours after our road trip started and having driven 345 miles. That included 38 miles that we went out of our way because I missed a turn outside Adel. We crossed a bridge over some railroad tracks, close to the Missouri River, then spotted a no-frills, old-fashioned motel, the Deluxe Inn, and took a room. We ate dinner next door at an authentic Mexican restaurant, Puerto Vallarta.

The next morning, Sunday, June 19, we drove to the nearby riverfront and crossed the Missouri River on a bridge that took us to downtown Omaha. Our Historic Route 6 experience complete, we turned around and headed back to Iowa.

For our trip back east, we took Interstate 80, but we made a couple of stops. One was in West Des Moines to visit Scratch, a “cupcakery” Sherry had heard about. After enjoying a tasty cupcake and some exotic coffee, we drove to a nearby theater and watched “Finding Dory.”

Then it was back on the road, leaving I-80 just once. That was to stop for supper at Ladora Bank Bistro (ladora bank.com), which had not been open when we had passed by it a day earlier.

Established in 2008, Ladora Bank Bistro is located in a nearly 100-year-old building that had been home to Ladora Savings Bank. It’s nine tables and four seats at a bar are placed among still-intact tellers’ cages. The bistro serves 40 varieties of beer from around the world, and many of its 85 varieties of wine are stored in the former bank’s vault. It is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 4-9 and Sunday from noon until 6. Reservations are a recommended.

Sherry ordered Angels on Horseback, seared scallops wrapped in bacon and served with horseradish marmalade. I had Shrimp Scampi Crostini, sauteed shrimp in a butter, lemon, garlic and white wine sauce with tomatoes and chopped parsley, served with warm sourdough bread.

The meals, $15 each, were very good, and we washed them down with Millstream Beer, which is brewed in Amana. Once back home, we had logged 659 miles for our two-day road trip.

Copyright 2017 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece ran as a column in 2016 in The North Scott Press, Eldridge Iowa.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Want real news? Pay for journalism you value

Alan Sivell

I don’t tweet. And I’m not on Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest. But I do check the social media site Facebook two or three times a week to catch up on news regarding my Facebook friends, people I know and care about.

Facebook has allowed me to stay up to date with family members and current friends and also to connect with former co-workers, old school chums and former friends, many of whom live long distances away.

I’ve read their good news and shared their joys. I’ve read their bad news and shared their sadness. Facebook, for example, is how I learned that a former co-worker was dying of cancer. I don’t particularly care about their political views, rants etc.

While visiting Facebook, I was surprised last year to read a so-called “news” story in the Trending Topics area of the site. It contained some astonishing information about a nationally known public figure.

The headline was outlandish, so I clicked on it out of curiosity to see the story. The story was even more preposterous and had been posted by a source I’d never heard of. Trusted media were not reporting the same information, and I wondered how could someone could get by with putting out this disinformation.

I had stumbled upon what is being called fake news.

Fake news websites, according to Wikipedia, “deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect.”

“I think it’s gone beyond that now,” says Alan Sivell, who teaches journalism at St. Ambrose.

“Everybody’s talking about fake news, and it was a phenomenon during the election,” says Sivell, a former TV and radio newscaster who also wrote a media-related newspaper column. “After the election, it’s gone from (being) fake news to any news you don’t agree with is fake. To me, that’s an even bigger problem.”

Some people denigrate the news media, he notes. “(And) if you shake confidence in the news media, people don’t believe anything – even when it is true.”

Facebook, Google and others have been taking steps to curb the number of fake news articles on their sites. But fake news still exists. NBC news recently reported that a fake front page of the Vatican’s official newspaper had been sent to cardinals and bishops by an anonymous source. NBC says it was part of what appears to be an ongoing campaign to undermine Pope Francis.

Says NBC: “The page, obtained by NBC News, purports to be the front of Osservatore Romano and contains a spoof interview with the 80-year-old pontiff…. “In the imaginary interview, the pope addresses a controversial request from four cardinals to clarify his position on whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Holy Communion. The pope supposedly answers ‘yes and no’ to the same question — casting doubt over whether he has a clear view on the issue.”

Sivell mentions fake news writer Cameron Harris, 23, who lives in Maryland, graduated from college last May and needed money.

“He set up a website and was putting up fake news about the election because he found that that got lots of clicks.”

Sivell says people getting lots of traffic on their site will get an email from Google’s AdSense, which will “put ads on your site, and if people click on it, you make money.”

He says Harris, a former college quarterback and fraternity leader, did a fake story about ballot boxes being found in Ohio before the election containing ballots already filled out for Hillary Clinton. Harris even found a photograph on the Internet of a man with a lot of ballot boxes and posted that with his story.

“Harris made thousands and thousands of dollars,” Sivell says.

Sivell also mentions some teenagers in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who realized they could get lots of clicks if they posted stories about Trump or Clinton. “So they were affecting our elections with that stuff.”

Sivell says Harris and people like him should be punished but he doesn’t know how to do it — other than shaming them — because of freedom of speech.

They are lying to the public, not just telling a lie to their family or friends, Sivell says. He says he considers what Harris did as being unpatriotic and un-American.

How can we spot a fake news story?

Says Sivell: “If you immediately agree with it…then you should back off. If you immediately believe it’s wrong, back off.” He says the truth is probably not as bad as you suspect or as good as you suspect.

He also says fake news stories often appear on websites we’ve never heard of. When you come across a story you question, “look at several well-known sources. You may be conservative and not like the New York Times, but they’ve got thousands of reporters reporting. You may be liberal and not like the Wall Street Journal, but they’ve got thousands of reporters reporting. These are legitimate news sources.”

Sivell also notes that fake news really is not new. “If you go back into the early days of the country, they had the partisan press. Each side was pushing their own agenda and calling out the other side in lies…. They weren’t doing it for profit, they were doing for political power.”

My wife, Sherry, also reminds me of those supermarket tabloids with prosperous stories about actors and others that some people believe.

What can we do to stop the spread of fake news?

Share responsibly, writes Elle Hunt in theguardian.com.

“Much as it might depress you to think in such terms, you are an influencer within your own social network: put in the legwork…and only post or share stories you know to be true, from sources you know to be responsible.

“You can help shape the media you want, too. Withhold ‘hate-clicking’ on stories you know are designed to make you angry. Pay for journalism you value.”

Copyright 2017 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece ran as a column in The North Scott Press, Eldridge Iowa.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Hungry? Drive on by

If you are traveling and contemplating stopping by Logan’s Roadhouse in Ridgeland, Miss., for dinner on a Saturday night, all I can say is, good luck. At best, the place is poorly managed. At worst, the staff favors local patrons over travelers when it comes to seating people in the order in which they have arrived.

Logan’s was busy when my wife and I walked in at 8:25 p.m. on a Saturday night in January. We put our name on the list for a table for two. We were told we’d have a 25-minute wait, and we said that was fine.

We noticed during the next hour, however, that many locals who had arrived long after we had had already been seated. Yet we were still waiting. We also noticed that a number of tables were vacant, but they were full of dirty dishes. There apparently was no one to bus them.

After spending more than an hour waiting – and watching others bypass us and be seated – we gave up and left. The name Logan’s Roadhouse leaves a bad taste in my mouth – and an emptiness in my stomach.

Copyright 2017 by Creative Enterprises, Walcott, Iowa

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The 1958 death of Det. Sgt. William H. Jurgens; Pray for police, their families and their friends

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, was a dreary day in Iowa. Cloudy and rainy. That was appropriate. The weather matched the mood of law-abiding Iowans who were filled with shock and sadness after learning that two police officers, one from Des Moines and one from Urbandale, had been shot to death overnight in their squad cars.

The shock and sadness I felt that day reminded me of similar feelings I experienced in the summer of 1958 when a Davenport police detective was shot and killed in his squad car.

I was only 9 at the time, but to this day I remember many of the details. Some research of news accounts has provided more information.

It happened Wednesday, July 16, 1958. Witnesses said Marilyn Sullivan, 27, of Cedar Rapids, an organist at the Fort Armstrong Hotel’s cocktail lounge in Rock Island, had been forced into a car as she left the hotel. Police broadcast word of Sullivan’s abduction shortly after 2 a.m.

Davenport Patrolman Ernest Lester later spotted a car on West Locust Street that answered the description of the one being sought. He gave chase, stopped the motorist for questioning and returned to his squad car to radio for help.

The motorist, Laverne Lewis Zaehringer, 29, Davenport, then got out of his car and walked to the squad car.

As Lester sat in the front seat and reached for the microphone, Zaehringer slammed the door shut on Lester’s left leg and reached through the open car window.
Zaehringer began to choke Lester and, Lester said later, told the officer to “call the others off or I’ll cut you to pieces.”

Zaehringer grappled with the officer, then grabbed Lester’s pistol and fired a shot. But as he fired, the patrolman dropped to the seat, and the bullet struck the car door just above Lester’s head.

In the meantime, Lester had spotted another patrol car a block away and had turned on his siren to pinpoint his location. Lester said he was reaching for a shotgun when he heard two quick shots ring out.

As Detective William H. Jurgens, 47, a 17-year police veteran, drove up to assist Lester, two bullets Zaehringer had fired went through the windshield of Jurgen’s car. Both bullets hit Jurgens in the head, killing him outright.

As Zaehringer attempted to leave, two other patrolmen, Arthur Gatton and Carl Prevatril, arrived and took him to custody. Gatton said Zaehringer told him he didn’t know why he had fired the shots.

Sullivan, who was in the front seat of Zaehringer’s car, was in a state of shock after the ordeal but was otherwise unhurt. She later said she had been forced into Zaehringer’s car at knifepoint.

In October of 1958, District Judge M.L. Sutton sentenced Zaehringer to life imprisonment at hard labor on a charge of first-degree murder and 30 years on a count of assault with intent to commit murder.

July 16, 1958, was a sad day. And Nov. 2, 2016, was a sad day.

But police officers put their lives on the line every day, with no guarantee they’ll come home at night. Please pray for them, their families and their friends.

Copyright 2017 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises, Walcott, Iowa. It appeared as a column in November 2016 in the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Coming soon: Walcott – The Early Years, 1854-1954

fred-tank-milk-delivery-copyMembers of the Walcott Historical Society recently turned the book they’ve been working on over to their printer. “Walcott – The Early Years, 1854-1954” is a spiral-bound pictorial book containing scores of historic Walcott photographs from the city’s first 100 years.

Sure to become a valued collectors’ item, the professionally printed book will sell for $25 and will be available in mid December, just in time for Christmas gift-giving. The book will be available for purchase at both Walcott Trust and Savings Bank and the Burt Clinic of Chiropractic.

It was my pleasure to volunteer my time “photo shopping” the many photographs and editing the many captions provided by Walcott Historical Society members, who worked many hours on the project.

This photo is from the Rudy Bluedorn collection. it shows Fred Tank, who delivered milk to his customers daily in this horse-drawn wagon. The building in the background was the home of the Scott County Tribune, published by Victor Bluedorn.

For more information on “Walcott – The Early Years, 1854-1954,” contact Karen Puck by phone at (563) 284-6438 or by email at kpuck2015@gmail.com.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tatoian: The good Lord has a plan. He just guides us.

mike-tatoian“The good Lord has a plan. He just guides us,” says Mike Tatoian.

That may best explain how the twists and turns of his life have led this former Bettendorf (Iowa) man to not only become the president of Dover International Speedway in Delaware but also to volunteer his time as part of the solemn Dignified Transfer Program.

A dignified transfer is the process by which the remains of fallen military members are transferred from an aircraft to a waiting vehicle and then to a port mortuary.

“The dignified transfer is not a ceremony; rather, it is a solemn movement of the transfer case by a carry team of military personnel from the fallen member’s respective service.” according to mortuaryaf.mil. “A dignified transfer is conducted for every U.S. military member who dies in the theater of operation while in the service of their country.”

“Dover is the only port mortuary for the Department of Defense,” Tatoian says. “So our fallen heroes come here first before they are sent to their final resting place.”

Tatoian says he first witnessed a transfer as a volunteer, and that experience was moving. As he drove home afterwards, he couldn’t stop thinking about it. Though he had not served in the military, he asked himself what he could do to help others who serve.

“My passion for men and women in uniform comes through my volunteer work with the USO, which is located on Dover Air Force Base, which has a role in the dignified transfer of our fallen heroes,” he says.

If you follow sports, the name Mike Tatoian may sound familiar to you.

“Sports was a big part of my life, both in high school and in college,” says Tatoian, who graduated from Bettendorf High School in 1979 and the University of Northern Iowa in 1983 with a degree in public relations and marketing. “In high school, I played football and wrestled. I played baseball and threw the shot and discus. At the University of Northern Iowa, I played football, and I wrestled for a couple years.

After college, Tatoian worked for the Quad-City Angels, the Class A affiliate of the California Angels. His proud father, Art, who served in the Marines during the Korean Conflict, says his son started as a groundskeeper and worked his way up to general manager. That’s the job Tatoian held in the 1990 season when the team won the Midwest League championship.

Later Tatoian’s employer owned and operated the Quad-City Mallards when the team came to town. “I was involved with them for about 10 years and won some championships with them,” he says. “It was great for me personally and professionally to be a part of sports and win some championships in my own hometown.”

Sports-related work later led Tatoian to Fort Wayne, Ind., then to St. Louis.

“When I was in St. Louis, while we were operating a hockey team (in St. Charles, a suburb) and some other teams around the country, I had heard there was an opportunity to run what then was called Gateway International Raceway. I’d never been in NASCAR before but was always intrigued with it.”

The speedway, located in Madison Ill., was owned and operated by the company for whom Tatoian now works.

“I came out to Dover to interview for the Gateway president’s position, and the CEO who hired me, and is still here, said he had an opportunity for me to oversee all the tracks that the company owned at the time, including the track near St. Louis,” Tatoian says.

Tatoian became the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Dover Motorsports Inc. In early 2015 he also assumed the duties of president of Dover International Speedway, which hosts two NASCAR racing weekends each year plus also some large music festivals.
Says Tatoian: “That’s how I got here 10 years ago. It’s been terrific.”

Neither Tatoian’s success in business nor his Dignified Transfer Program volunteer work surprise his friend, Bruce Fosdyck of Bettendorf, who has known him since middle school.

“We played Little League together,” Fosdyck says. “Then I went to high school with him. He was on my football team and my wrestling team all through high school.”

He says Tatoian is very modest, but “he’s always been one to bend over backwards for everybody. He always had a lot of potential growing up. In hindsight, I see that. He’s come a long way. He’s worked hard for it, though.”

It was shortly after moving to Dover that Tatoian says he met the executive director for USO Delaware.

Tatoian says he decided to become a volunteer for USO Delaware, and he also joined its Advisory Council, which he now chairs. USOs around the world are “all about being at the side of our military men and women and their families, providing the comforts of home,” says Tatoian. “Ours is special because we have the additional responsibility of the dignified transfer.

“We don’t do the entire dignified transfer process, but our USO volunteers are a major part of what takes place when we’re bringing the fallen hero home.”

A USO Delaware staff of four works with the air base and other agencies to make sure all of the elements regarding the fallen heroes and their families who are coming to Dover are taken care of.

“It’s tough to think that this particular young man or woman was somewhere in the world protecting all of us,” says Tatoian, who with his wife Tammy has twin sons and a daughter. “It’s just gut-wrenching. This a pretty compelling reason why all of us need to support all the men and women in uniform and their families.”

Tatoian also serves on the Chief of Staff United States Air Force Civic Leader Program. The unpaid advisors provide unfiltered feedback from their communities and invaluable insight on local public opinion on Air Force issues.

“There are 25 of us around the country who have been nominated by their local bases to serve,” he says.

Fosdyck, who spent nearly eight years in the Marines, is proud of his friend, Mike Tatoian. “With me being a service member and him not being a service member, I think that’s neat that he donates his time off to the military. I think that’s pretty awesome.”

Copyright 2016 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece appeared as a column in the North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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