Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q A Royal Treat

During a recent motoring trek from Cuba to Sullivan along historic Route 66 (I avoid the interstate at all costs), my eyes and grumbling stomach forced me into the gravel parking lot of an interestingly named rustic eatery aptly named Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q.

The “Hick” part of the name justified my instant belief and understanding that any (and all) Missouri hicks know how turn anything barbecuable into a culinary masterpiece. And, I’m proud to report, I couldn’t have been more right – the food was some of the best I’ve found anywhere in the Show-Me-State.

On that particular day, I had little time to do any business other than applying the art of sauce-to-shirt and quieting the rumbling of an embarrassingly loud (and empty) gut. That accomplished, I made it a point to return for a little more investigation into this new place of barbecue worship situated a few hundred yards from the city limit sign in the Crawford County town of Cuba.

“We will definitely come back here,” said Missouri Hick patron Judy Knudsen, who recently moved to the area from Dallas, Texas. “As a matter of fact, we’re coming back this evening to sit upstairs on the balcony.”

Knudsen stated that the barbecue that she was experiencing during an afternoon lunch was as good as the places found in Texas.

Her friend – and Chicago native – Sally Krause agreed with the review and plan to return.

“Chicago has great pizza and Italian Beef,” said Krause. “But they don’t have a clue as to how to make good barbecue like this.”

Other visitors, some first-timers to the “Hick”, mingled with veterans that know the value of great food on a local scale. One gentleman politely stated that his “choppers” were too busy reducing the size of a half-slab of ribs to talk to any reporter. “This is his first trip here,” said another member of the table.

Before I let you explore the awesome menu through the wonders of print, you should be aware that this IS NOT one of those “hole-in-the-wall” wonders that somebody’s neighbor or cousin’s best friend says he knows about. The décor is like Hicksville Hollywood, the finest Ozarkian style encompassing finished cedar and antiques of an era lost to time and technology – granny’s cabin in splendor.

The minimal use of neon beer signs is a definite plus, which gives it a good old family feel. The pace is easy and the atmosphere quiet – nothing to distract one from a plate of ribs, one of a variety of sandwiches, a salad, or the incredible hickory smoked barbecue chicken.

With wood floors and tables – everything essentially in the wood motif – the feel is constantly and always as advertised. Antiques adorn the walls throughout the two-story restaurant, which was opened in February of last year. Old iron cookware and an amazing variety of old tools adorn the walls. Even pitchforks lend the feel to the Ozarks lifestyle – what better tool does an old Missouri hick need for an honest day’s work?

One of the most impressive features is a set of finished cedar steps that take the patron to the upstairs (smoking allowed only upstairs) and the outdoor covered balcony – you probably haven’t seen anything as impressive in any stairwell in Crawford County.

The second floor seating area is decidedly in line with the first, but the best part of climbing the steps is getting to the balcony, which sports a grand vista of historic Route 66, which winds its way from town to town along the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks.

The balcony has plenty of room to spread elbows and sling sauce, six tables with two oversized for large groups – or for someone with a “hickuva” an appetite needing lots of plate space. The upstairs can accommodate groups of 50 or more.

Oh, the food. I started with a pulled pork sandwich, which is pork shoulder roast, dry-rubbed, then slow-smoked on the rotisserie for hours. A small pulled pork sandwich goes down the gullet for only $4.49, a large just a little under a buck-and-a-half more. My pulled pork was excellent and filling, kind of made me want to lay around in the shade with my dog and enjoy a nice Missouri breeze before the next round. Other sandwiches include: smoked pulled chicken, turkey breast, smoked sausage (I heard it’s worth a three-county drive), jumbo hot dog ($2.95), ham and swiss, or Ruben’s ($6.95) on toast with Tiger Sauce or Thousand Island. All sandwiches come with chips, pickle, and choice of one side (more than a dozen available).

I didn’t have enough room for a salad, but I saw one – Wow! Accurately described as a large bowl of salad greens, topped with tomatoes, two kinds of cheese, bacon bits, scallions…and your choice of chicken or turkey and lots of dressings to choose from. Like an old Missouri musket, this thing is big and loaded and only $4.95.

There’s also a huge spud that comes as loaded as any you’ll ever see ($4.95) and tons of side dishes to choose from. Small side dishes may be purchased for a buck, pints $2.50, quarts $4.00 and gallons for $14.00.

But the real magnet has got to be the ribs. Hickory smoked for that authentic flavor, full slabs dinners are $15.95, one-third slabs only $7.95, and half-slabs $8.95. A smoked one-half chicken is $5.95 and a six-ounce pork loin dinner only $6.95 (10 oz. $3 more), and a brisket dinner is $7.95. Dinners are served with a choice of two sides and Texas toast (the only thing borrowed from Texas!).

Don’t want a dinner or want a carry-out? No problem, just ask. And Missouri Hick also has specials and can accommodate groups or holiday meat requests – again, just ask. A kid’s menu is also offered.

For those seeking real Missouri barbecue – or just a great place to relax inside or out – Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q is perhaps the best set of fixin’s on Old Route 66. To get there, take I-44 West to Cuba and proceed south on Hwy. 19 until the Old 66 intersection, turn left (east). Or better yet, take the scenic route along the South Service Road (from Sullivan/Bourbon/Leasburg) – otherwise known as Old 66 – until you see the big two-story rustic building (formerly a Texaco Station/Annex Café) on the right. Located at 913 E. Washington, Cuba, MO. Phone 573-885-6791. Closed Monday.

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Obituaries…Brown, Cline, Lattimore

Junior A. Brown of Sullivan passed away Saturday, November 22, 2003 at the age of 77 years.
Junior was born January 5, 1926 to the late Elmer A. Brown and Mildred Bottemurller in St. Louis, MO. On September 27, 1944, Junior entered the U.S. Army where he served until March 3, 1947. During his first tour of duty in the U.S. Second Army, he received the Asiatic Pacific Theater Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and WWII Victory Medal. He reenlisted in the regular army and rose to the rank of Technician 5th grade, serving Battery B, Second Field Artillery Battalion of the U.S. Army. On December 19, 1959, he married Melba E. Blankenship at St. Clair, MO. During the next 40 years, Junior and Melba enjoyed watching their children and grandchildren play in various sporting events. They never missed a ballgame and always supported their team. Junior also enjoyed taking long walks and scenic drives. He lived in the Sullivan area all of his life and was employed by the Missouri Department of Transportation for 33 years until his retirement. Junior was a family man, who loved his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all his heart.
He is survived by one son, Allen Brown, one daughter, Debra Sanders both of Sullivan, three grandchildren, Heather Lucas and husband, Kurt, Alicia Sanders and friend, Daxell Poebla all of Sullivan, Hobie Brown of Sullivan, five great-grandchildren, Jacob Dace, Cole Sanders, Taylor, Aley and Kaleb Lucas, two brothers, Curtis Brown and wife, Ida, and Ross Brown and wife, Frances all of Sullivan, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. Along with his parents, Junior was preceded in death by his wife, Melba Brown, and one sister, Norma Farrar.
Funeral services were conducted at 2 p.m. Monday, November 24, 2003 from the chapel of the Eaton Funeral Home in Sullivan with pastor Tom Snavely officiating. Interment was in I.O.O.F. Cemetery. Memorials may be given to the Missouri Baptist Hospital of Sullivan, Oncology Department in memory of Junior Brown.

Cleo C. Cline of Sullivan, Missouri passed away on Sunday, November 16, 2003 at the age of 64 years.
Cleo was born June 12, 1939 at Webster City, Iowa to Keith and Mildred (Lyle) Cline. He was raised in Sullivan and graduated from Sullivan High School in 1957. Cleo held the record for 40 years for most points scored in a basketball game. He attended and graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a degree in business. Cleo also played basketball all four years at the university. After college, Cleo returned back to Sullivan where he ran the former Sullivan Candy and Tobacco Company with his father, Keith. In 1985 he operated the Nu-Way Cleaners in Sullivan until the business was sold in August of 2003. His hobby was farming, mainly cattle and horses. He was also a long-time member of the Sullivan Fire Department where he had been director of the board for 12 years. Cleo was past president of the Sullivan Saddle Club and had coached Sullivan Khoury League for several years. On June 24, 1989 he was united in marriage to Rhonda Ivie at St. Louis, Missouri. Together they made their home on his farm near Spring Bluff. Cleo was known as everybody’s best friend and he was also giving towards others. Along with basketball, Cleo’s favorite sport was deer hunting.
He is survived by his wife Rhonda of the family home, one brother, Kent Cline of Sullivan, a sister, Marlys Thompson and husband Jim of St. Louis, nieces, Jennifer Siwinski, Tricia Cobb, Misty Bouse and Brandi Ivie, nephews, Kyle Cline, Jarrod Ivie and Jason Ivie, a great-nephew, Keegan Cobb, other relatives and friends.
Funeral services were conducted at 2 p.m., Tuesday, November 18, 2003 from the Eaton Funeral Home in Sullivan with interment in I.O.O.F. Cemetery. Memorials are desired to BJC Hospice in memory of Cleo Cline.

Jerry D. Lattimore, Sr. of Sullivan passed away at his home Monday, November 17, 2003 at the age of 77 years.
Jerry was born on September 25, 1926 to the late Thomas W. Lattimore, Sr. and Mildred A McDaniel Lattimore at Sullivan, Missouri. He attended Sullivan schools and was a graduate of the Class of 1944. Jerry was very proud to have honorably served his country in the United States Army from December 1944 to November 1946 with the 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 11th Airborne Division. On September 5, 1947 he was married to Florence Bailey at Sullivan, and they celebrated 56 years of marriage. He was employed by the Missouri Department of Transportation and retired as Chief Inspector after 42 years of service. Jerry loved baseball and was an All Star catcher. His love for the game continued throughout his life as he coached Little League and supported his son and grandchildren as they played. He was musically talented and loved to play the guitar and fiddle. He played in many bands and was well known for his guitar picking. He enjoyed playing for senior groups or for anyone who enjoyed music. He was a member of the Sullivan Oddfellow Lodge #156, and a member of Sullivan Masonic Lodge No. 69 A.F. & A.M., where he was well-known for his excellent chili. He was a past Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge. He was also a member of the First Christian Church of Sullivan. Jerry was a man of many talents, but the thing he will be most remembered for was his love for his family and many friends he made throughout his life. He will be forever in our hearts.
He is survived by his wife, Florence Lattimore nee Bailey of Sullivan, one son, Jerry D. Lattimore, Jr. and wife, Nancy, of Bourbon, five grandchildren, Mathew Lattimore and wife, Courtnie, of Farmington, Missouri and Leslie Lattimore of St. Louis, J.W. Brandt and wife, Alison, of Sullivan, Joe and Jacob Brandt both of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, four great-grandchildren, Emma and Ethan Lattimore and Beau and Reagan Brandt, one brother, Thomas Lattimore and wife, Maudie, of Higginsville, Missouri, two brothers in law, Darrel Bailey and wife, LaRae, George Bailey and wife, Anna Belle all of Bourbon, two sisters in law, Wanda Bailey, of Sullivan and June Sites of Tucson, Arizona, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. Along with his parents, Jerry was preceded in death by one son, Bradford L. Lattimore, and three brothers in law, Marcus and Larry (Pete) Bailey and Rev. Robert Sites.
Memorial funeral services were conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, November 22, 2003 from the chapel of the Eaton Funeral Home in Sullivan. In lieu of flowers memorials are desired to BJC Hospice of Jude Children’s Research Center in memory of Jerry D. Lattimore, Sr.

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Gary Patterson Benefit

Gary Patterson died Sunday evening, just hours after dozens of fellow chain saw artists and local citizens gathered Saturday on a city-owned blacktop parking lot to stage a benefit auction known as Garyway.

“Gary was going to come to a Pennsylvania chain saw carving event last February called Ridgway, but he was having problems and went to the doctor,” said A.J. Lutter, a well-known Minnesota chain saw artist and (one of several) organizers of Saturday’s fundraiser. “That’s when Gary found out he had a brain tumor.”

Fellow artists describe Gary’s last months on earth as a struggle, but not a lonely one. A former Union Pacific conductor, Patterson took a buy-out from his employer without the security of medical insurance; his bills have exceeded $200,000, not including the costs of hospice. The funeral bills will come soon, as will piles of associated medical costs one incurs when sudden and unforeseen death is not an option.

“A lot of carvers found out about the Garyway benefit from the Internet,” stated Lutter. “The ones that care will be here.” More than 30 carvers made long-distance treks to offer their artistic creations for the benefit auction, which began exactly 24 hours before Patterson died after being taken to the local hospital.

But that didn’t matter during the last 48 hours of Gary’s celebrated life as a man, husband, father, artist and friend. Oh, and he obviously had a lot of friends – and respect.

On a day when blue skies turned to gray to cold and to rain, the slow procession of fellow chain saw artists began to trickle into Sullivan, a town of 6,000 located 60 miles southwest of St. Louis, and probably known more for being along Old Route 66 than art or culture. A typical Thursday, probably, except for the constant stream of strangers setting-up shop on the parking lot next to the city pool, where most of the traffic is reserved for youth baseball action and little else.

Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa – the stream of strangers pulling their wares in trailers and trucks, a noisy bunch attracting a lot of attention. And that was the point – attract a lot of attention and money. Chain saw artists from across the country descended upon the small community where Patterson had made a name, maybe not a household one, but a name nevertheless. The artist had made a living making life out of wood, utilizing chain saws as a medium that was nearly unheard of in these parts before Patterson left Illinois in 1993 and settled near Sullivan. Now people brag that they have a “Gary Patterson”.

“Sullivan has kind of adopted Gary since he lost his house in a flood (1993 flood disaster took his Valmeyer, IL home),” noted Lutter. “Gary was very instrumental in getting a lot of carvers started. He’s a good guy, a really good guy.”

On Friday, the weather cleared and a warm southern breeze began to blow and swirl clouds of sawdust, the blood and by-product of chain saw art. And the whine and roar of at least a dozen wood-chewing, chiseling gas-powered tools of the trade became magnets to the curious townfolk – advertising without cost or effort. By Saturday – the day of purpose – locals and not-so-locals gathered on a lot in the middle of town to view the incredible diversity of wood-carved art that would be auctioned to the highest bidder for the highest of causes.

“The Ridgway (in Pennsylvania) benefits Make-A-Wish, but this is the first to directly benefit one person,” said Lutter as the much-respected artist Dennis Roghair carved nearby atop ten-foot high metal scaffolding. Lutter relayed the fact that artists sometimes send pieces of finished art to fellow artists that are too sick to work, allowing them a chance to keep money in the till during rough times. There are no unions, no medical plans – all very much freelance and at the mercy of luck and staying healthy.

The life and working environment of a chain saw artist can be physically grueling – heavy (and very loud) saws, exhaust fumes, long days in awkward positions. “When I was young, I could work six days a week at eight hours or more a day,” said Lutter, who has known Patterson for 18 years. “My ears were shot and back problems are common, but we stress safety today.”

In the minutes leading up to Saturday night’s 6 o’clock auction, when card-carrying bidders would have an easy shot at landing expensive artwork for a fraction of the value, the excitement (and crowd) began to build. Dozens of pieces – everything from angel fish to bears (huge favorite) to eagles (also popular) to life-sized cowboys and seafaring mariners – sat perched around and on two flatbed trailers. Predicting the financial outcome of any auction is tricky; predicting the take at something that’s never been experienced by the bidding crowd nearly impossible.

An hour and 25 pieces of auctioned art later, the crowd was in awe, both in the quality of the art and the generosity of those opening their wallets and hearts for a man that many have heard of, but few actually knew. Patterson was, like Lutter said, kind of an adopted son – a man that brought culture and art to a town with little of either.

A cedar bench with carved cowboy boots – $350. A bear in a tree – $265. A small hand-carved elk – $200. A western red cedar man on a stump – $450. And the massive bear/fish/eagle carved by the absolute-respected Dennis Roghair – $3,100.

“Things are going very well,” whispered Lutter as Col. Robby Berti enticed the crowd to bid higher and higher for an impressive 3-foot-tall eagle. Jeff Pinney, an artist from Cheswick, Pennsylvania, said he was also encouraged by the early returns as the hundred or so registered bidders gave signs of going higher or giving in or just plain sitting silent for the right moment.

As the night air cooled the crowd and the final few pieces found new owners and places to call home, it was evident that the artists and spectators had shared something quite unique and special. Strangers and friends coming together for a common and simple cause – to help a man and his family in a time of dire straits and need.

A few minutes before the auction began, Lutter nervously addressed the crowd, reminding them that the entire purpose of the assembly, the chain saw carvers and all the art and sawdust, was for Gary. “Don’t forget,” Lutter told the bidders and curious onlookers, “that this is for Gary.” If those were words of charitable and financial encouragement, they were effective. The auction grossed $46,000, way beyond expectations.

Patterson passed away at 6 p.m. on Sunday, exactly 24 hours after the auction benefiting and remembering him began. Jeff Pinney, an artist from Cheswick, Pennsylvania was still in the parking lot carving bears, a lone saw breaking the silence of the evening air. A female friend of Patterson’s sat quietly nearby on the tailgate of a pickup truck, looking to a sky filled with stars and moon-silhouetted clouds.

“Gary’s up there now, carving the clouds for all of us to see,” she said with a slight smile. At that moment, Pinney’s chain saw became deafening silent. Without cue or the ability to hear what had just been said, Pinney looked briefly to the sky. Seconds later, the whirr and buzz broke the night air again and somebody’s bear was coming to life.

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