Monday, July 5, 2010

Best kept (secret) lunchroom in Indy

Rising early to catch the morning's bright sun, the Halls decided to walk around the city's center and take in some of the sights. Mr. Hall had intended to show off the War Memorial Park and some of the civic buildings, but when Mrs. Hall caught sight of one of the statelier edifices on the perimeter of the square, she had to check it out. "What is this?" she asked. "It's the Scottish Rite Cathedral," replied Mr. Hall, "And I've always wanted to go in, but never had a chance. You wouldn't be interested in seeing that, would you?" But she was already around the back, looking for a way in.
The gentlemen giving tours of the building were just finishing up their coffee. One of them held out his hand and shaking Mr. Hall's, introduced himself warmly and began to recite some of the more interesting points of the history of the building. The stained glass windows were lovely, but Mrs. Hall was most fascinated by the ones in the library. "These were made to commemorate some of Indiana's favorite authors," said the guide, and he pointed to a tall narrow pane. "You might not have heard of them in New York. One is James Whitcomb __" "Riley," finished Mrs. Hall; "One of my favorites- we were just reciting 'The Jolly Miller' and 'Little Orphan Annie' last week." Mr. Hall shook his head. "You'll have to work harder to stump her." "And that's Gen. Lew Wallace, the author of 'Ben Hur'," went on Mrs. Hall, pointing to the rest of the stained glass, "--a book that some have speculated mirrored his own life." The guide continued showing off the rooms and treasures renewed and pleased he had an ardent audience.
Room followed glorious room until they had moved to the rear of the building. In a small chamber was the photo archives of all the masons that had gone through Scottish Rite. Mr. Hall's own cousin had been raised to the 32nd degree here, and after a moment or two, they were able to locate his "yearbook" picture in the files. Mrs. Hall, who had been poking her head into a room marked "Members Only" ("That room is only for the men," he tried to explain gently, pulling her out of what was formerly a smoking and billiards parlor) mentioned she was feeling a little peckish, when they came upon a charming lunchroom, hidden in the back of the building. "It's open to the public," admitted their guide, "but you really have to know it's back here to find it." They decided that moment to have lunch there; partly because of it's secret nature, and partly because Mr. Hall spotted the chicken fried steak coming out of the kitchen.
Well-fed and full of history, the Halls hit the high road again. Heading out of Indianapolis, on the south side of town, they stopped to locate a few more relatives buried in small local cemeteries, pay their respects and move on.
Corn fields gave way to tobacco fields. It seemed to Mrs. H. that outside of agriculture, the only other industry was religion; there were more churches along the road on the way south to Kentucky then there were gas stations. And where they weren't selling salvation (either indoors or outside on countless billboards) they were hawking cigarettes or firearms.
With the help of their handy dandy GPS, they were in Louisville, KY in no time at all, and posing for pictures by the world's largest bat in front of the home of the famous Louisville Sluggers. Mr. Hall had originally proposed going westward out of Indiana, but Mrs. Hall insisted on this little detour. A huge baseball fan from way back, she couldn't resist touring the home of such an integral part of America's favorite past time. One of the features of the tour allowed you to hold and pose with a famous ball players former bat, and the Halls chose perennial favorite, Mickey Mantle. "I've always had a Louisville Slugger around the house," Mrs. Hall explained to the tour guide. "Some times even for playing baseball." When he seemed puzzled by the remark, she elaborated that the Louisville Slugger was her weapon of choice. "While I have always had a fondness for Walther PPKs," she went on, "you can't go wrong with a Slugger. I've never had one misfire yet."
One of the glorious things about summer is how long the days are, and coming out of the Slugger museum into the golden evening's sun, Mr. Hall said, "You know, we are only a short hop and a skip from Churchill Downs. Would you like to check it out?" It is well known around town that Mrs. Hall never turns down an opportunity to go to the track, even if said track is just about ready to close the doors for the day. They pulled into the parking lot and convinced the security guard to let them just walk around a little bit and grab some shots. She was nice enough to tell them which gate to slide into, and for just a minute, the memory of the roar of thundering hooves enveloped Mrs. H. Wiping a tear at the stature of Barbaro, they waved to the security guards on their way out and headed to their hotel. Next episode: capital candies in Frankfort, KY. Stay tuned!

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