St. Chuck hits the road


I found a little treasure on Saturday about three hours from my house.
It wasn’t the pretentious little Korgies that walked on short leashes, while the affluent in golfie attire and watches that don’t count steps, walked closely by in shades.
This day-trip on a weekend produced results beyond expectations as we sauntered over brick sidewalks and tight, well-formed squared off curbs into Llewylens for a few beverages on a breezy spring day.
The Spirit, Southwest, and United Airlines rolled and banked against a jet blue sky and reminded me of the trip I have coming up to New York City. I hate flying. So I do it right. Sit up front so you can get on last and get off first. It costs a bit more, but it’s more than worth it.
I sipped on an orange IPA and talked with my sister-in-law-in-law Joyce. Yeah, that’s real. It’s my brother’s sister in-law. You get it. Just let it sink in and you’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, in-law, in-law.’
We talked about a myriad of things as birds flew by, waiters flew by, and  time flew by.
We stopped in after walking through the boutiques of clothes, fudge, fresh dipped strawberries, and cooking implements.
At one of the stores I stood with the plexiglass just under my nose and watched the kid probably making 12 bucks an hour drizzle warm frosting over milk chocolate berries and appreciated how nice it was to be an adult with a few bucks in my wallet. It made me miss my kids. Taylor’s in New York dealing with a jackass who wants to intrude on her day to introduce himself, even though she has no interest. Kelsey is having strawberries whenever the hell she wants with the gramma probably sitting on a porch of some rustic cabin in God’s court. It takes nothing for me to walk myself back to the heart-wrenching moments of Kelsey’s last breath. It’s selfish as hell, but my brother always tells me she’s in the breeze. So I regularly pull heavily on the spring air. I do that in the winter, too, it just doesn’t feel so great when it’s cold. But anytime I breathe her in, it’s warm.
But I’ve been pushing some friends of mine to go down to this Galena of Missouri and shop and stop, sample lemon bars, look through clothes, spices, yard ornaments, and other novelties.
It's St. Charles and there’s something about the historical Main Street that makes me hope that Fort Madison can do something similar, but not quite so cozy, when they reset Avenue G.
I found many, many, many shirts that said “Saint Chuck”. Yep. I bought quite a few of those and sent texts with pictures of the logo. And all to a person said, “You’ve gotta get that”. Yep.
They had stocking caps, baseball caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. that made me feel that these were just for me. I’m no saint. Hell no. But it doesn’t hurt to brand yourself as someone who tries to do the right things at the right times whether it’s for you or someone else. If that makes you a saint, then so be it. Most of the time it just makes you a human.
 St. Charles, or St. Chuck if you’re into nicknames or just think a little of me, is a wonderful day trip. We stopped and got lottery tickets and water and I didn’t get to stop at my favorite Hannibal gas station for Cajun Catfish and chicken strips because we left too early in the morning and got back home too late at night.
We met a member of the St. Charles Park Board who sat with us for close to an hour and talked about how they spend their $9 million annual budget. He’s also writing some non-fiction stuff about high school football that I can’t wait to read. One of my favorite things in the world is meeting new people. This guy was as genuine as there is. He dropped a link to some of his writing in our email inbox before we even got home. John and I shook hands with him as walked his wife back out onto the historic Main Street with his hand on her lower back. We moved into their seats as the canopy there provided a little more shade, and I could put a pat on the head of the Belgian Malinois that was sniffing for scraps behind us on a leash. I imagined how proficient she would be flying through the air to take down some riff-raff.
The day was beautiful and well worth the slight expense of taking a couple moms out for a special day. I think my mother would have appreciated that. My wife, as wonderful as a mother she is, was just too far away to hook up with. But we’ll make sure that effort is put forth, as well.
As for me, I’m just gonna say Happy Mother’s Day to all those wonderful women out there that I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with. I will also say Happy Mother’s Day to the dads that pull double duty. When you get a chance, get away and drive the 2 ½ hours to St. Charles to treat yourself to some good food, sweets, a drink or two, and the steps to work it off. I did it - But that’s really Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Beside the Point, opinion, Sunday, editorial. commentary, Chuck Vandenberg, Pen City Current,


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