Two Dairy Queens

I promised Chad I would not tell his wife, Jen (not one of the several Jens cast in the film), that we went to Dairy Queen twice today. We spent much of the day driving through some real Kentucky. Torrential rains last month meant that several rivers and creeks flooded--there were wrecked trailers and appliances along the banks of almost every waterway we passed.

It was fun, though, to hear and meet some real Kentucky. As we four-wheeled along muddy, washed out roads, Emily told us about her great uncle, "River" Arthur. So named to distinguish him from her Great-Grandfather, "Creek" Arthur. River lived down by the river. Creek lived over by the creek. "We're all Johnsons named Arthur. We don't get too creative with names."

Anyway, River Arthur was walking along the rain-swollen river one day when he saw two pages of a book floating by. He waded out into the brown flood to fetch them back to shore. He read these two pages and liked what there was of the story so much that he walked the creek and river every time it flooded hoping to find the rest.

We even met "Unk Arch's" uncle, "Unk Junior." He was in front of us on the tractor as we drove out of Emily's lane. He had to be 75, naked from the waist up. Half my size and twice my strength. Unk Junior was coming in out of the fields to pick peaches to sell at the farmer's market on Friday. Emily honked the horn and he pulled over. He grabbed a hoe from the tractor's fender and waved it menacingly before he smiled wide and walked over to the truck window. He ended many sentences with "I mean you know?" Emily leaned across the passenger seat and spoke out the window, "What's Aunt Doris up to, Unk? [pronounced 'uh-unk']"

"Oh, I got her workin' them beans." He smiled and winked. "You GOT to keep these people workin'."

We chatted about the floods and the bad roads and the poor tobacco crops. Unk wanted to know if Emily was going to get rich off of these movies so she could lend him some money. It was easy to see why Chad relishes every chance he gets to hang out with these very warm, very colorful characters.

Alas, we couldn't stand around jawing with Unk Junior all day. We had to go to Dairy Queen. Again. Chad practically cried for it. This DQ featured an important archive of historic Dairy Queen photos from the 1940s and 50s. It also had the Ten Commandments posted above the trash bins.

2 thoughts on “Two Dairy Queens

  1. I loved this post. I thought I could really tell a lot about what you value--and what you miss--about the midwest and the south. Poignant.

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