Thanks to Uncle Bill, we had a great outing to Six Flags last night… dinner, a visit with Santa, and lots of fun rides. Here are some picture highlights…
We still haven’t purchased and put up our Christmas tree this year. It isn’t that we are procrastinating, it is just that we are trying to decide between the tree in the article below or a $20 tree from Lowe’s.
The following is a list of some of my favorite books. I do not mean to suggest that these are the best books within the specified genres, only that they are some of the books that I have enjoyed the most.
FICTION / LITERATURE
Historical Fiction (Ancient): Quo Vadis, by Henrik Sienkiewicz
Historical Fiction (Modern): The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara
Fantasy: Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
American Literature: The Deerslayer, by James Fennimore Cooper
Shakespearean Play: Much Ado About Nothing
Series–Science Fiction: Ender Series, by Orson Scott Card
Series–Children’s: Sugar Creek Gang
Ancient History: History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer
Ancient Philosophy: An Introduction to Ancient Philosophy, by A.H. Armstrong
Retail: Why We Buy, by Paco Underhill
Essays: The Abolition of Man, by C. S. Lewis
Systematic Theology: Christian Theology, by Millard Erickson
Classic Dialogue: Pope Julius Excluded From Heaven, Erasmus
Modern Dialogue: Socrates Meets Jesus, by Peter Kreeft
Autobiography: Confessions of St. Augustine
Memoir: Locked in the Cabinet, by Robert Reich
Grammar: Anguished English , by Richard Lederer
Bible Survey: Explore the Book, by J. Sidlow Baxter
Cultural Criticism: How Should We Then Live, by Francis Schaeffer
Study Bible: The Bible Self-Explained
Philosophy of Religion: On the Freedom of the Will, by Jonathan Edwards
Linguistics: Linguistic Concepts, by Kenneth Pike
Landscape Interpretation: Mapping the Invisible Landscape, by Kent C. Ryden
Male/Female Relationships (non-theological): Why Men Don’t Listen, and Women Can’t Read Maps
Male/Female Relationships (theological): Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
Christology: Jesus, God and Man, by Wolfhart Pannenberg
Eschatology: The Blessed Hope, by George Eldon Ladd
Abortion: The Unaborted Socrates, by Peter Kreeft
Susan had arranged ahead of time with another pastor’s wife to keep our two older children when it came time to deliver Daniel. However, Susan doesn’t like inconveniencing anyone. It was about 3:00 a.m. when it came time to leave for the hospital so Susan thought she would hold on for just another hour or two so as not to have to disturb our generous friends so early in the morning. After all, she was in labor with our first child for fifty-one hours (yes, 51), so there really wasn’t any hurry.
About 4:00 a.m. she realized she had waited too long, we were going to have to rush to get the kids dropped off and drive an hour and fifteen minutes to the Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. She made the phone call to let them know we would be dropping off the kids.
Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring. No answer.
Call again! Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring. No answer.
We could just go on to their house. The problem? They lived about twenty-five minutes out of the way we were headed. If we got there and they had gone out of town for the weekend….
Well, we could just take our five-year old and three-year old on to the hospital with us. But then I would end up sitting with the kids rather than being with Susan.
We called a couple from our church and they said to drop our kids off with them. We did.
Now, on to Little Rock. I suggested that I make a quick stop at the Waffle House to grab a cup of coffee. “It won’t take but just a minute, Hon.” Susan shares with me, ahemm, why anyone with more brains than an amoeba would never even think such a thought. We journey on.
Before we even get to Malvern Susan is hurting really bad. Her contractions are coming less than two minutes apart. She thinks the baby is really close. She has given birth to two children so I assume she knows a little about what she is feeling. I call the doctor’s on-call number and it is obvious that he was asleep. I ask him if I should stop at the hospital in Malvern? No, according to him a baby never comes as quickly as a woman thinks it is going to. Come on to Little Rock and have the the labor nurses call him after getting Susan checked in. “But sir, I don’t think you understand…” He is already back asleep.
I ask Susan if I can turn on the radio. Bad question. I ask if she would like me to coach her on some breathing exercises. Bad question. I ask her if she would like me to sing to her. Really, really bad question.
There are many tears, cries, and groans along the way. Susan asks me to stop the weeping, crying and groaning.
We are almost to the exit ramp to the hospital when Susan lets me know that the baby is coming NOW! Hold on just a minute I exhort her. Bad exhortation.
I pull into the Emergency Room entrance. Susan can’t walk at this point so I get a wheelchair for her. Admissions staff start asking questions about insurance, contact information, etc. They do not yet understand that the baby is REALLY COMING NOW.
A nurse walks out, takes a look at Susan, and immediately rushes her back into the Emergency Room while I continue to answer stupid questions. Sixty seconds goes by and someone comes out and says that if I want to see this baby born I have to come with him now.
I walk into the Emergency Room and there are no less than nine medical people in the room with Susan. Susan asks, “Is my doctor almost here?” A physician responds, “Maam, there are five highly skilled doctors in this room, don’t you worry about a thing.” Evidently, babies are very rarely born in an Emergency Room so all of the ER personnel wanted to witness the event. In addition to the five doctors there were nurses, administrators, the Dr. Pepper delivery man, …
Within four minutes of the time we entered the doors of the hospital Daniel Willmann Stilley was delivered. We were within four minutes of him being born in a Toyota van. I have often wondered if there might have been some kind of corporate sponsorship possible had that taken place.
On May 13, 2007 Susan and Daniel had a joint celebration. Daniel’s third birthday happened to fall on Mother’s Day this year. In recognition of Susan’s and Daniel’s German heritage we went to the Edelweiss Restaurant, laughed and told stories, ate more than we should, and some of us even danced. Yes, Baptists do dance, we just aren’t very good at it.
For more of our family pictures GO HERE.
Yes, I grew up in and around Podunk and there is rarely a day that I don’t think of it.
Check out Keith Anderson’s music video “Podunk” which was filmed on my old stomping ground.
- I grew up in Podunk.
- My great-grandmother was full blood Cherokee.
- I have forgotten my wife’s birthday…twice.
- I have been shot at … twice.
- The two items immediately above this one are not related.
- I had a pet alligator when I was a child. It escaped.
- One of my relatives was killed by an alligator.
- I hope that the two items immediately above this one are not related.
- My first car was a 1973 Capri.
- Some of my favorite books are children’s books.
- I almost died in a military aircraft accident.
- At one time I grew giant pumpkins as a hobby.
- My favorite scent is the smell of freshly poured cement and my second favorite is freshly cut lumber.
- I bought my first house when I was 16 years old. I sold it one week later for an 80% profit.
- I was mugged on the streets of London.
- I was almost responsible for a man being shot by President Carter’s Secret Service agents. Oops.
- Due to my propensity to be interested by a wide range of disciplines, I managed to take 220 college hours before ever receiving my undergraduate degree.
- I was a kindergarten drop-out.
- My first real kiss was at church camp.
- I got a spanking at my seven year old birthday party for pretending to hang myself.
- I presently drive a convertible.
- My favorite color recently changed from blue to scarlet.
- I once owned a car worth $1.84 billion.
- It’s embarrassing, so don’t tell anyone, but I really like those old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies
- I married an exotic dancer.
- I have swam in a spring-fed river while there was snow on the ground.
- My first pet was a billy-goat named Timmy.
- I once slept for twenty-four straight hours without being under the influence of anything other than an exhausting schedule.
- My favorite food is a vine-ripened tomato.
- My favorite drink is raw milk straight from the cow.
- My favorite herb is cilantro, my favorite spice is crushed red pepper, and my favorite side is fresh bean sprouts. Yum.
- My favorite musician is Luke Garrett and my second favorite is Robert Cray.
- I once climbed Mount Baldy near Glorietta, NM in the pitch black of night.
- I start most days with a three-mile walk and end most days in bed with a book of short stories.
- I won a beauty contest.
- My favorite restaurant was Fred and Red’s in Joplin, MO until it closed. I am now shopping for a replacement for the top of my favorite list.
- The first magazine I ever subscribed to was the Weekly Reader.
- The first “big” book I ever read was Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In many ways it it was influential in my developing love of reading.
- I have lived in four states that begin with the letter “M”. In alphabetical order I have lived in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iceland, Oklahoma, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas.
- When I married Susan I stopped watching sports on television. Her family had been big sports fans and she had always felt left out because she had no interest in television sports. I did not want her to feel left out in her own home so for the first twelve years of our marriage I never watched one game on television. I now watch televised sports in moderation.
- While abstaining from televised sports, I participated in Wes Kenney’s NFL Picks contest and had a better pick record than any of the ESPN experts.
- I quit my first adult job because they would not give me a nickel per hour raise. I could not have cared less about the nickel, it was the principle of the thing.
- I have once or twice pretended not to notice my child’s dirty diaper so my wife would change it. I know, I know, I am hanging my head in shame.
- We send some of our six children to public schools, some to charter schools and homeschool others.
- My garage is a horrible, horrible mess.
- I would rather preach at a funeral than administer a wedding.
- I have clothes in my closet that are at least twenty years old. And, I still wear them.
- For two years I was the Master of Ceremonies for my high school’s talent contest. That was the last time I was master of anything.
- My ancestors started the first Baptist church in Texas back when it was part of Mexico and illegal to do so.
- I’m not sure exactly what my idea of a perfect day would be, but I would think it a really good day to rise early to drink really, really hot coffee while sitting next to Grand Lake of the Cherokees chatting with my wife while watching the sun rise above the horizon. Followed by several hours of quiet/private reading time and devotions. Then, wading and swimming with the kids and then all piling into my convertible for a trip to town for ice cream. Then a relaxing nap with an old fashioned water cooler blowing directly on me and a soft old ratty quilt to keep away the chill. Then, rising to grill some really nice steaks while the kids run and play on a giant lawn. An early evening watching a silly movie with the kids, then sitting on the porch and talking late into the night with my wife.
- I love to laugh out loud, and do so frequently, but very rarely around anyone except my wife and children.
- I do not like to talk on the phone because I want to see the person with whom I am conversing.
- I once applied for a job with the CIA. I could tell you about it, but then I’d have to kill you.
- When I baptized my son, Parker, in Lake DeGray, I did not get the very top of his head under the water, so I dunked him a second time.
- I traded name identification cards with another student at my junior college graduation so that they announced our names wrong to those assembled.
- I have experienced betrayal by someone I considered to be a close friend. It hurts.
- I enjoy immensely a steaming hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.
- I have noodled catfish with my bare hands.
- The most valuable class I have ever taken was “Typing.”
- I was valedictorian of my high school class.
- I own more books than the Library of Congress (well, … maybe not).
- Almost 40 years later, I can still taste the last unripened persimmon I bit into.
- My three siblings and I all graduated from different high schools.
- My third child was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital.
- I enjoy the company of those with whom I have little in common.
- I have fallen asleep while driving, bathing, talking, and eating but never while doing all four at the same time.
- After working to get into West Point, I declined the offer of a Congressional Appointment because I was in a relationship with a girl.
- For years I would make up and tell my kids a new pirate story almost every night at the dinner table. Argh! Matey.
- I once fought a battle with the biggest-baddest Water Moccasin that ever lived. I finally admitted defeat and retreated after a 10 minute struggle.
- In college, I once went out with five different girls, on five consecutive nights and took them to the same restaurant where I was waited on by the same really cute waitress every time. I invited the waitress out on a date but she declined for some reason.
- I once had William Estep yell at me when I suggested that the Anabaptists were crisis theologians.
- On most days, if I had a choice between taking a nap and meeting the President of the United States, I would opt for the nap.
- I have on more than one occasion believed that I perceived an unseen presence while sitting with someone as they died.
- I sometimes regret that I never became a famous movie star. Steven Spielberg, are you listening?
- While playing golf in Joplin, MO I once hit the city manager’s car with a bad slice off the tee box.
- I hate to fly. I also hate to ride in planes.
- During one period of my life I lived almost exclusively on popcorn, pickels and buttermilk.
- I own a Xena, Warrior Princess doll.
- One of the most prized possessions I ever owned was an 1848 first edition of Edwin Wilhelm Hengstenberg’s Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel. I gave it away to a beloved friend back in 1993 and today I get much more pleasure from seeing it on the shelf in his living room than I ever received from owning it myself.
- I once rode the subway from East Point, GA all the way to Buckhead just to get an apple-cinnamon yogurt.
- I have had lots of “rides” but my favorite was a Suzuki GS 550L.
- I have seen a bear in the wild.
- I don’t believe in ESP, or anything like it, but I do believe the world and people are much more interconnected than we understand.
- During my first pastorate the little old ladies in the congregation called me “Brother Honey.” (That moniker should be read with a gentle southern accent.)
- I learned more about covert operations while working with a church youth group than I did in four years in the Air Force.
- I’m claustrophobic, so please move back just a little from your computer monitor.
- I watch the movie Groundhog Day over, and over, and over, and over, and ……..
- If I was going to write a parable about my life it would begin something like, “Once upon a time there was a pinball machine…”
- I like kaleidoscopes.
- I have never been to a bachelors party, but I did host a book shower for one of my students who was getting married.
- When I write for publication I always try to include a few sentences that are quotable.
- I once knew a Special Forces guy that I thought made James Bond look like a wimp.
- My favorite toys as a child were little plastic cowboys and Indians.
- I was told as a child that I did not sing well. So, I stopped singing out loud and rarely sing in public to this very day. However, I make up little songs that I sing to my wife and kids daily. (“O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice To slander music any more than once.” Much Ado About Nothing, act II, scene III)
- I sometimes judge a book by its cover.
- In the fifth grade I told my social studies teacher to beware because I was a werechicken. Afterwards, I was stuck with the nickname “Chicken” until my family moved to another town.
- I always cry when I watch Toy Story 3 with my kids.
- Call me barbaric but I much prefer the cheap generic Kroger Party Pack chocolate chip vanilla ice cream to any of the premium brands.
- I like lists.
- I am married to the most beautiful, exciting, intelligent, witty, understanding woman I have ever known (yes, she reads my blog).
When people think of a Baptist campground in Oklahoma, they usually think of Falls Creek Baptist Assembly near Davis. Falls Creek is great! However, I have always preferred the Grand Lake Baptist Assembly campgrounds in Northeastern Oklahoma.
There are many reasons why I prefer this smaller campground; one being the fact that it is smaller. Sense of community is important to me, and the churches of the Northeast Baptist Association which own the Grand Lake Baptist Assembly have always managed to maintain an intimate relationship with each other in a way that I think most associations fail to achieve and nurture. This is the association in which my father spent most of the 50+ years that he pastored. I have always wanted to pastor a church in this association, but now that I’m an old guy with a b’jillion kids it is unlikely that will occur.
Well, I’m rambling. This post is part of a series on PLACES I WANT TO RETURN WITH MY KIDS. So, why do I want to share Grand Lake Baptist Assembly with my children? What makes it special to me?
Reason 1 – Grand Lake Baptist Assembly is where I got my first real kiss.
I was fourteen and like most fourteen year old boys I wasn’t afraid of anything — except pretty girls. I wasn’t just afraid of pretty girls, they petrified me. I could not speak around them, I could not eat around them, I could not think around them, I could not even breathe around them.
At this particular youth camp one of our sister churches from Fairland had only one camper that was going to be attending. So, rather than them opening their cabin and someone taking a week off from work to be the counselor for a single camper this church asked if their camper could go with our group. Sure.
Well, when “J” showed up at the cabin to join our group she was wearing a cute little white dress that I can still recall after 30 years. And, she was not just cute, but downright beautiful with hair cropped short and a neck that belonged on a marble statue. When I saw her I knew that I wouldn’t be speaking, eating, thinking or breathing for a week.
Word got out that one of the guys in our cabin had caught “J’s” attention. It was me! Now what was I going to do?
Well, to cut the story short, she and I spent some time together and on Tuesday night before cabin devotions this older woman (she was one year older than me) walked me out into the woods and gave me my first real kiss. WOW!
The whole world looked differently after that. We spent two great days hanging out together and then . . .
She dumped me for a guy with a car.
It was brutal. But, I forgave her treachery long ago. All I want to remember are pleasant thoughts about that week.
Reason 2 – Grand Lake Baptist Assembly is where I met my first real girlfriend.
The summer of my fifteenth year I again attended youth camp at Grand Lake Baptist Assembly and several of the guys and I ended up spending time with some girls from Miami Immanuel. It seems that a certain “JM” spent all week walking on her tiptoes and it definitely caught the attention of some of my friends.
Well, several months later I was invited to a hayride for “JM’s” birthday. I wasn’t sure why I was invited. After all, I was the guy who avoided pretty girls and was for the most part invisible in any boy-girl group. It turns out that one of “JM’s” friends, a certain “G” had an interest in me.
My memory is a bit shaky, but as best I remember it “G” became my first real girlfriend nearly a year later. We dated throughout my senior year in high school. There are several great stories that could go here, but let me just say that “G” was a truly dedicated Christian and her influence on me probably has as much to do with me being in Christian service today as does the fact that I grew up as a PK. I am thankful that I met her at church camp.
Reason 3 – I learned to love reading the Bible while at Grand Lake Baptist Assembly.
When I was about 16 or 17, there was really not a man in our church that could go to serve as a counselor at junior camp. Ordinarily my Dad would have done so but my grandmother was in the hospital in Columbia, Missouri. So, even though I was young they let me go as the counselor.
However, there was a woman counselor in the cabin behind ours that took a liking to me. Okay, I know the girl stuff is old by now, but I have a non-girly reason for sharing this. I really wasn’t interested in this woman so I spent most of the week hiding in the cabin. Through most of high school I read at least four or five books each week, however, I had not expected to have much reading time so I had only brought one book with me (a Jack London title). When I completed the book I went looking for something else to read and the only thing available was my Bible. Oh, no!
I spent the next several days reading my Bible and that is when I discovered just how enjoyable the Bible is to read. Sure, it is God’s revelation of Himself to man. Sure, it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness. But, that week I discovered that it is also great literature. From that day, I have really enjoyed reading my Bible.
Reason 4 – I invested blood, sweat, and tears on the campus of Grand Lake Baptist Assembly working alongside my Dad.
I remember my Dad telling me once, “When it comes to things, they can always be repaired if you want to spend the money and time that it takes. However, people are a different matter. Only God can repair them.”
Dad has lived those words every day of his life. If you could break it, he could fix it. For that reason he was always elected to serve on the Northeast Baptist Association’s executive committee with responsibilities for the association’s buildings and grounds.
Once a year we would have an association wide work day at the Grand Lake Baptist Assembly to get it ready for the summer camping season. Representatives would come from most of the churches to participate.
Several more times a year Dad would round up a group to work on problem areas.
But, most of the time, it was just Dad who did whatever it took to get things ready to go. And me when I could not find a way to escape.
I spent many hours with Dad working on support pillars for the old tabernacle that used to be on the grounds, working on the swimming pool, spraying insecticide, and anything else that happened to need our attention.
I still remember one brown bag lunch we shared while working on the old tabernacle – a sandwich, a few crackers, and a plum. Why do I remember the contents of that brown bag lunch from thirty years ago but I can’t remember what I had to eat yesterday? The answer is obvious,– working beside my Dad at the campgrounds was a meaningful experience for me.
Reason 5 – I had shared experiences with many great friends there.
We had fun! Lots of fun!
Just one example and then I must press on with what is rapidly becoming as lengthy as a Russian novel.
The old outdoor tabernacle had metal posts to hold it up. One of those metal posts managed to come into contact with a wire from the speaker located above it such that anyone who touched it had a shocking experience.
My friends and I would hold hands making a long chain of misfits. Then, when someone coming from the swimming pool would pass by, the person at the end of the line would reach out and touch them just as the person standing next to the pole would grab on to it.
The electric current would then pass through everyone in the chain and only the unsuspecting person grabbed at the end would be shocked. Great fun!
Reason 6 – I think of Grand Lake Baptist Assembly every time I put on my socks.
I could have left this one off the list, but I might as well throw everything into the soup. I was wearing flip-flops on the assembly grounds and accidentally tripped on the tennis court ripping the nail off of my left toe pinky. Nasty business. I had to drive in to the little hospital in Grove, Oklahoma to get it fixed.
Anyway, my left toe remains a little deformed so I am reminded of camp every time I put my socks on. (I really should have left this off my list.)
Reason 7 – It is where I first really considered the possibility of full-time Christian ministry.
Like most PKs I had a chip on my shoulder with regard to the church. Even though I started preaching in various places at the age of sixteen I did not want anything to do with full-time Christian ministry.
Then, David James brought a group from the Baptist Student Union at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College and had a little get together for those of us who were high school Seniors at youth camp. We ended up playing a little game that I think was called Nexus. It involved discussion of the spiritual gifts and some personal sharing and discussion. It was that night that I think the walls I had thrown up between me and ministry began to come down.
Reason 8 – Oh, just the huge treasure house of memories that I have of the place.
I’ll share one more memory then close with reason #9.
I must have been about 14 or 15. It may have been the same week that I met “J”. Many of us were standing outside the cabin talking when we heard screams from the girl’s side of the cabin.
It seemed that one of the girls had feinted in the bathroom? No, it was much worse than that… she wasn’t breathing.
It seems that the pilot light for the water heater had gone out and her lungs had simply shut down in response to the gas . . .
She was lying naked on the bathroom floor and was not breathing. My Dad who was serving as the male counselor grabbed a large beach towel, wrapped her up in it and carried her out to the car. He threw me the keys to the Toyota and we headed for the hospital in Grove. City people won’t understand a man trusting his underage unlicensed son to drive 100 mph to the hospital. However, country people probably will.
Anyway, while I drove faster than I thought a Toyota Corolla would travel, Dad gave here mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. About half way to the hospital she started to breath again and became conscious.
Scary, but all turned out well.
And, finally. . .
Reason 9 – I saw God reach down and draw many people to Himself while they were on the grounds of Grand Lake Baptist Assembly.
I still tear up when I think of the many people I saw respond to God over the years at Grand Lake Baptist Assembly.
It has been many years now since I have set foot on the assembly grounds. I understand that much has changed. The tabernacle that Dad and I worked on is now gone and has been replaced with a temple (metaphorically speaking). Some of the churches have turned their little cabins into luxurious accommodations. What was once a summer-only encampment is now used year round.
But, I trust that one thing hasn’t changed. I trust that God still chooses to use the Grand Lake Baptist Assembly grounds to draw children, teens and adults unto Himself. Someday I hope to return there and walk the grounds with my children and tell them about the things I saw God do there and maybe even share a few of the things that I did there of which God probably did not approve.
The following is a picture of me winning a beauty contest. That’s right, all you cynics, the picture below was taken when I won a beauty contest. You can CLICK HERE to see a current picture of me to decide if I might still be able to win one.
Eleven Places I Want To Return With My Kids – Part 3
David Fisher was one of my best friends during high school and college. It was David that introduced me to Fred & Red’s spaghetti. In fact, it was David who introduced me to many things. I could probably write a book about “My Adventures with Fish.” I haven’t had any contact with David for many years now. But, David, if you should happen to find this note, thanks for exposing me to Fred’n Red’s. Just as you shared this place with me, I hope to one day share it with my kids.
They serve other things, but for me it is the spaghetti that has repeatedly brought me back through the decades.
Fred & Red’s spaghetti is piled high on the plate and then it is smothered in chili. And, when they ask you if you want onions and pickles with it,. . . say “yes.” Now, some of you are saying, “pickles?” Yes, pickles. I know it sounds weird, but somehow they make the combination work.
But don’t go on Mondays or during the month of August. More than once I have made a special trip to Joplin for the sole purpose of eating at Fred & Red’s just to find the doors locked and a sign on the door saying “Closed.” The restaurant is only open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. And, it closes during the whole month of August.
Fred & Red’s only seats about 20 people, and all of the seats are counter seats that encircle the prep area where your servers prepare your food. Because seating is limited, you may need to stand around the edges of the room for a few minutes waiting for your counter seat. But the food is worth the wait, and it may just be me, but I think that the counter seating atmosphere somehow makes the food taste a little better.
Fred & Red’s got its start back in 1923. I don’t know if they are still in the same building as they were back in 1923 but it is definitely a possibility. I found a model of the building on Ebay. A picture of it is at the top of this post.
The information below is culled from that same Ebay listing.
When Fred Herring gave up lead and zinc mining to start mixing up chili and tamales in Joplin in 1923, he did it because mining was chancy, but people always had to eat. Fred’s buddy, Red Wilcoxson, became his partner and Fred & Red’s, now a local landmark, was born.
The restaurant is now owned by Red’s son, Larry, who started working in the business as a youngster. The secret recipes Larry learned then are still secret. “We’ve had numerous opportunities to found a chain or franchise,” Larry says, “but that would mean divulging the recipes of our chili and tamales.” Even Linda Day George, who once sat at Fred & Red’s counter, would find finagling the recipe to be Mission Impossible.
The home-made tamale press Fred built in the 1930s is still in use. Engineered with model A gears, crank, and pushrod, the press has yet to be replaced by a modern counterpart. “Every Monday night we make four to six batches of about 750 tamales. In winter, we sometimes make 5,400 tamales every seven days. They’re all hand-rolled,” Larry says. A week’s supply of chili is usually about 2,200 pounds. In winter, that number jumps to 4,400 pounds.
Just think, had they chosen to use one partner’s surname, and the other partner’s family name, they could have named it the Red Herring. Hmmmm.
There are lots of little cafes and restaurants from my past for which I have a fondness. The Grasshopper / El Chapulin in Adrian, Michigan — Fred’s Texas Cafe in Fort Worth — The Hungry Fisherman in Malvern, Arkansas — The Burger Barn in Arkadelphia, Arkansas — the original Chick-Fil-A in Hapeville, Georgia are all special places in my memory. I also have warm thoughts of a few places that no longer exist such as Griff’s Hamburgers in Joplin, a nice little cafe whose name I can’t recall that was located on Main Street in Commerce, Oklahoma next to Jake’s Barber Shop (which also no longer exists) and where my Dad once took me after a basketball game when I was in the third grade, Betty’s Dairyette in Picher, OK where we used to rush to and from during our school lunch hour (and play a few pinball games while we were there).
However, with the exception of the IHOP at the Eastchase exit in Arlington, Texas where I romanced my children’s mother, there really isn’t any existing cafe or restaurant other than Fred & Reds that I can say I really want to share with my kids. I guess it’s time for a road trip, . . . and we all know how well I travel with my kids.
For previous installments of Eleven Places I want to Return With My Kids,
Click HERE for Part 1, THE CREEKS, RIVERS, & LAKES OF NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA
Joplin Spaghetti Red Recipe
Spaghetti Red is spaghetti covered in chili and served with hamburger pickle slice, onion slices, crackers and sometimes mustard. The following recipe is just like the chili served at Fred & Red’s that loyal customers swear features the best Spaghetti Red they have ever had.
3 pounds of the highest fat content ground beef you can find
1.5 packages of Williams Chili Seasoning (or approximately 1/2 cup)
1.5 teaspoon garlic salt
1.5 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 sleeve (1/4 of a box) of crushed saltine crackers
Brown the hamburger meat and add the chili seasoning, garlic salt and cumin and simmer for 15 minutes. **DO NOT DRAIN GREASE**
Add the sleeve of crushed saltine crackers and one quart of water to the simmering meat and spices. Mix well together and simmer for 1 hour. Add extra salt if needed.
Simmering time is very important, so do not rush it!
Serve on top of cooked spaghetti noodles. Add pickles, onions, and crackers on the side.