Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 207

the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the unlucky deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe.

Speed Trap

“We will race back to see how things are shaking in Chi Town,” Race rhymes with Ace.

Constance rhymes with constant, “Let’s get back in one piece.”Deer Crossing

This time Highway 20 will see them back to home base, but not before acquiring two unwanted speeding tickets and colliding with an amorous White Tail buck; the Illinois speed traps were sneakily placed, while the deer was spending his evening hours chasing after a doe. The Buick Roadmaster is a 4415 pound vehicle so the deer barely leaves a mark, but the traffic violations mean that Ace will be making June trips, back to Jo Daviess and Boone counties.

 

When they do gain the expansive Cook County, a new morning has dawned. The roads and streets leading to the U of C are welcoming and more familiar than those of the past two weeks.Libby Dead or Alive-001

Homecomings, even to temporary homes, give the sojourners great comfort. 6137 Kimbark is just as they had left it, with the noticeable remixing of Willard Libby, who is hidden no more and basking in the positive reviews from Graham crusaders, longtime colleagues and educated citizenry. He has rekindled the national debate surrounding the divergent issues of creation and evolution.

Libbyites-001The man, who spawned the people known as the Libbyites, admits to being a changed man, like a new incarnation of his former self. From inside the Graham Crusades, this scientist has bridged the intellectual gap that has always existed between science and religion, a not small task in the face of prejudicial professional bias.

Without intentionally searching for it, Willard knows what it’s like to be a part of revival.


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Forever Mastadon


page 173

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 205

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 205

…Constance interrupts the frisky librarian’s fantasy before it can get out from behind the research desk…

Interrupted

Ace’s hitherto humble homebody aficionada takes a closer look at Constance’s intensity, conveniently ignoring exactly what she means.

Man ‘O Meter Art by Bill Frymire

“They are leaving Cedar Rapids and are headed to the Mississippi River. Then, they are to catch a paddle wheeler to the Twin Cities.” He sees the two women in a private discussion, accidentally stepping all over his own territorial rights. “Do you have any suggestions about how to intercept them on the way to Minnesota? Can we get there from here?”

“My family is from Mankato (MN),” Sarah’s man-o-meter is spiking into the red. “I could show you the way Mr. Bannion. I have some time off scheduled for next week. The crocuses should be blooming right now and I need to help plan a family reunion… let me get a road atlas, the new 1951 Edition…”

Constance interrupts that fantasy before it can get out from behind the research desk.

We have our reliable State Farm road map and we really must be going! We need to pick up our things in Eagle and check out of ­our motel and bid Polly Pabst farewell…”

Can’t a librarian dream a little?

Leaving Cooney is exactly what they (Ace & Constance) do, by heading due west to Prairie du Chien, with intent to deliver a radical religious recipe for demonic demotion, in the form of a lambskin scroll, to Billy Graham. Just how far the preacher will go to put the ancient script into action remains to be seen, but for the two temporary Wisconsin citizens, the end justifies the means, even if it meant braving a lusting librarian.

—United States interregional highways are improving, albeit slowly, but the need for a nationwide roadway plan is recognized and in the works. The issue of national defense is the driving force behind these logistical studies—

They could use a superhighway about now.

US Highway 18 will take away from Oconomowoc and provide them a concrete pathway, through the rolling hills, past the Wisconsin state capitol of Madison and out to the mouth of the Wisconsin River, where it empties into the Mighty Mississippi.


Constance Caraway P.I.

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page 172

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

…”I can open it,” Constance reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily…

From their home base in the Town of Eagle, Constance and Ace Bannion head off to meet their tour guide from Milwaukee, a lower level Armour executive that has access to Danforth through his ongoing financial dealings with Patrick Anderson Valentine II. The younger Valentine has no tangible need for the once vibrant P.D. Armour Estate. The upkeep is killing him.

The previously immaculately kept grounds are now overgrown and undistinguished. The 75+ room mansion has been stripped of its appointments by Armour and Valentine relatives who did not share in the ten million dollar will/estate of either family bequeathing.

But as cavernously empty the building is, there seems to be something or someone lingering about. No, it is not that bitter coldness that Pentateuch has need of, or his lingering smell of burning hair & flesh, but there is definitely some sort of “presence”.

“Has anyone ever told you, or have you heard, that this place is haunted,” her investigative skills kicking in, Constance steps lightly through room after room, until on the third floor. She nears a particular room. That isDark locked, “Here, in here!”

“I have no idea what is in there, but the door is locked,” the guide explains. “I believe this was Mrs. Valentine’s sewing room.”

“It’s only a skeleton (key), I can open it,” she reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily. The unused and un-oiled door opens slowly, revealing a room that has not been touched in decades. Cobwebs drape from wall to ceiling and ceiling to furnishings. There is a cradle in the corner, which appears to be rocking back and forth, empty and dusty.

The rooms natural light is short and outside noises are squelched by heavy drapery, yet there is single shaft of light, seemingly without origin, streaming onto a large book….

question mark

“What’s in the book?”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Stay tuned-001

Forever Mastadon


page 169

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

… I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding of my family…

The newest visitors to SE Wisconsin have allotted one full day of getting familiar with the lay of the land (and lakes) and several varied combinations of Polly Pabst meals and country wisdom. Over liters and quarts of caffeine fortified coffee, they get answers to their most prominent questions…

“The name “Pabst” is everywhere around here, are you…” Connie begins to place people to places and places to history.

“Yep. I used to run away from it, unlike my brother Davey, who loves the family business and racing cars. But when I opened this diner, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding.

“I saw the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign in the window.” Ace has been known to sample adult malted beverages on occasion, so Pabst Beer has passed by his lips before.

“I don’t live out at the mansion. I have a small house nearby.”

“We took a long drive,” he uses hand signals, “counterclockwise around Oconomowoc Lake and Pabst Farms is the first thing you run into. You know, I didn’t know that cows made beer.”

“What else do you do with 1200 acres, Ace? Hops do not grow well above the 40th parallel, but corn and dairy cattle do nicely.

“There isn’t a better area in the country, it has it all; fresh water, oak forests, fertile soil, friendly people and all this only 30 miles from a major city like Milwaukee.”

“God certainly outdid Himself here, that is for sure,” adds Constance from her two day perspective. “I don’t know if we mentioned it, but we are going to get a tour of Danforth Lodge tomorrow. I hear that it is magnificent.”

Polly has perspective of her own, having grown up in a moneyed family, with a long storied legacy, “That is a good example of what happens when the patriarch senior, then junior get older and all that ostentatious construction makes less and less sense; the kids sell off and divide up the riches, without mom or dad to make a fuss. After Valentine took over Danforth, the luster of the Roaring Twenties and the money island that brought them through the Depression had faded into the past. Property like that just doesn’t make sense any more.”

“You are a bright woman, Polly, I’m impressed. What keeps you tucked away in Eagle?”

“I am tucked, but productive. You may not realize it, but we cater far more food, to wedding and banquets, than we serve out here. There are twenty people in the back getting ready for a party this weekend.”

“This building must be bigger than it looks!”

“It used to be a textile factory, an example of the shrinking manufacturing base in the United States.”

She may be tucked away, but an entrepreneurial treasure nonetheless.


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Forever Mastadon


page 168

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

…”Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single…

“What is the Saturday Special?”

“Hasenpfeffer stew,” counters Polly Pabst.

“What kind of stew is that?”

“German for good, let’s go dear, it’s…I’ll explain it in the car…we’ll be seeing you again Polly.” Ace predicts that they will be back. “Did you ever have a pet rabbit?”

“No, we had a parakeet.”

“Then order the meat loaf, if they have it”Luft's-001

Not far down the road, tucked into a lightly forested foothill, they locate Luft’s Route 67 Inn. It is a “motel” by every definition: 10 or so rooms on ground level, each with their own door.

The kindly innkeeper takes their money and passes a register Ace’s way. Mr. and Mrs. Caraway are now official, if not unofficially married guests in Eagle, in the short time before heading into Cooney (Oconomowoc’s  odd nickname).

“Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single. If she could figure out a way to keep her surname, maybe she could bridge that commitment disconnect.

Once you wing your way north out of Eagle, the terrain flattens out, carved smooth by ice age glaciers. The forests thin out, exposing acres of corn fields and large fenced in pastures that nourish hundreds of Holsteins, the four-legged machines whose milk help make this America’s Dairyland.

pabst-farms-signIf your destination is Oconomowoc Lake, you never do make it to the city proper, having to veer off of Hwy. 67 to less obvious road choices. Bodies of water dictate where roads go and if you come upon a fork in that road, you are given the opportunity to make a wrong turn.

To the right, you will pass away from the lake and the fields of Pabst Farms, 1500 acres of working agriculture that acts as a buffer zone; the Pabst family and Al Capone’s lawyer are tucked away on sprawling acreage.

Hang a left and you will soon see the waters of one of the cleanest fresh water lakes in the state. Sure, the winter’s ice is still floating off shore, but the Caraways can understand why this hidden gem is the destination for meat packers, brewery owners and gangsters; Armour, Miller, Uihlein and Capone; mansion after mansion line the hills along Beach Road, which runs along the western shore.

Right before you round the corner again, just as Ace’s friend’s directions say, P.A. Valentine’s Danforth Lodge sits high above, the royal landlord to the rest of the lake’s residences.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Oconomowoc Lake Club

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 198

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 198

…Wouldn’t you know, both liver & onions and  meat loaf are not a part of today’s menu…

Pabst Diner Menu-001

The would-be diners look at each other and say jointly, “We’ll have the fish fry.”

“That is locally caught perch with rye bread and a choice of coleslaw or french fries,” the waitress, a young woman with a farm girl look, recites by heart.

Guest check-001

“Can we have both,” asks Ace. “We are starved. It’s been a long drive.”

“Chicago… that will be $1 dollar extra.” She is unintentionally ambiguous.

“Is the dollar for coming from Chicago or the extra food?”

She ignores the question as stated, “We get a lot of folks from Chicago in here, but you two are way more polite than most; you don’t even sound like you’re from the north. I’m good at guessing where a folk is from.”

“Give it a shot darlin’. I’ve got an Alexander Hamilton here that says you can’t guess what states we are from.”

She looks around, after seeing there are no other customers, then offers, “The lady looks like a true Southern Belle, maybe Georgia or the Panhandle.” She looks at Ace from his head and stopping at his feet, “You sir are from Texas.”

“Tallahassee, Florida,” CC raises her hand, while Ace adds, “Austin, Texas and I bet my rattlesnake boots gave me away.”

She grabs the $10 Silver Certificate and stuffs it into her apron, “Do you want tartar sauce?”

“I like you, you, you are ____,” prompts Ace?

“Polly, Polly Pabst.”

“I like you Polly Pabst, but I wouldn’t play poker against you; you’re cold.”

“I have a mortgage to pay.”

“We are headed to Oconomowoc; do you have a name of a good place to stay for a couple days?” Constance is planning ahead.

“Cooney is only 20 miles away…we have a cute motel on the north side of Eagle, you can’t miss it. Are you two married?”

The would-be overnighters look at each other and say jointly, “Yes-no, no-yes.”

“I ain’t being nosey, just that the older gentleman running the place used to be the preacher over at the Lutheran church and his wife is a bit of a prude.”

“We thank you for the head’s up,” Constance locks arms with Ace as they head out. “What is the Saturday Special?”

“Hasenpfeffer stew.”

“What kind of stew is that?”

“German for good, let’s go dear.”


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Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 197

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 197

…they traverse the un-glaciated sliver of land named the Kettle Moraine State Park; bluffs, hogbacks, escarpments and kettles…

ROAD TRIP-001Thanks to a State Farm Travel Atlas and Ace’s keen sense of direction, they do not get lost on the twisting 130 mile trail through the Dairy State. Once they pick up Highway 67 outside of Lake Geneva, all signs count down the mileage remaining until you reach the city with the 5 letter Oconomowoc-001‘O’s in it. The road sign reads:

There are only 3 towns of note on this two-lane highway, an indication that there isn’t much else along the way. “You don’t go to Yellowstone Park to see skyscrapers,” the driver makes an analogy.

But not before they traverse the un-glaciated sliver of land named the Kettle Moraine State Park; bluffs, hogbacks, escarpments and kettles give it an out-of-place feel. “Are we still in the U.S.?” asks the passenger, even though she is the wiser.

Pabst Diner-001“Can we stop for a cup of coffee?” At 108 miles out of they have reached the inconspicuous berg named Eagle, 500 some odd folks who thrive on people traveling by automobile, hence the two filling stations, a general store and the Blue Ribbon Diner.

“I bet you that restaurant has coffee and a good home Pabst Diner Menu-001cooked meal,” Ace guesses. “Liver and onions, that’s what I’m hoping is on the menu.”

“Eeeuuwww!” Connie holds her nose. “I’ll settle for meatloaf and mashed potatoes.”

They stroll through the wooden screen door and discover a place frozen in time, like it hadn’t changed, even the stools at the lunch counter, since the 1920’s.

Wouldn’t you know, both of their menu wishes are not a part of the handwritten chalkboard list that includes homemade: chicken soup, pot roast, clam chowder and today’s special, the Friday Fish Fry.

“Liver and onion Special is on Sunday,” the cook (with long ears) reports from the back.

The would-be diners look at each other and say jointly, “We’ll have the fish fry.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Kettle_Moraine

Forever Mastadon


page 166