Hello Mary Lou

For over 20 years my wife has been dragging me back to Indiana for one thing or another. Usually it’s your typical family functions; holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals.

Our journey together started in Indiana, and after all these years I thought I knew every one of my wife’s friends and every one of her haunts around the state. That’s why it was such a shock when I found out about Mary Lou. Throughout all of our years together I’d never heard of Mary Lou.   Not once.  And from what I’m finding out, she’s known throughout the state.  Of course to most she’s known by her full name: Mary Lou Donuts.

Mary Lou Donuts Lafayette INMary Lou Donuts has been a Lafayette, Indiana institution for over 50 years, about as long as I’ve been on earth, but until recently I had no clue.  How could this be?  We travel back to Lafayette regularly.  That’s where most of my wife’s immediate family lives.  Her parents have lived in Lafayette for as long as we’ve been together. (Okay, technically they lived in West Lafayette when we first started dating, but the difference between Lafayette and West Lafayette is only apparent to the people who live or go to school there.)

But not once was Mary Lou Donuts ever mentioned in a conversation.  Now to be fair, when we head back to Indiana we don’t often eat donuts.  Saturday breakfast is usually reserved for another Lafayette institution, The Downtower (where Yolanda nearly hands you your regular drink as you walk in the door).

Over the years if we did get donuts, her folks usually made a quick trip up the road to Corlew Donut Company, another local doughnut baker.  Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember the last time I ate a donut I didn’t enjoy, but I also can’t remember anything special from the few times we’ve had donuts from the Donut Company.

So how did Mary Lou finally enter my life after all these years?  Her name actually came up by accident just a few weeks ago.  My wife and I were on one of our weekend trips, this time traveling on Route 66 in Illinois.  We had started our day in Joliet, IL and stopped at Joliet’s award winning Homecut Donuts for a quick breakfast treat.  As we enjoyed our donuts my wife mentioned that one of the Homecut Donuts reminded her of the donuts from Mary Lou’s.  Mary Lou?  I had no clue who or what my wife was talking about.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  It was at that point she finally realized I had never experienced the donuts from Mary Lou’s.  She promised me that the next time we were in Lafayette she’d get up early and grab a dozen or two.

Mary Lou Donuts Lafayette INWell, the wait to meet Mary Lou wouldn’t be much longer.   We already had our next Indiana trip on the books.  We were going to be in Lafayette to celebrate our nephew’s first communion and my mother-in-law’s birthday just a few weeks later.  I’d been in the dark about Mary Lou Donuts this long, I could survive just a few weeks more.

Now I wouldn’t say that I’m a doughnut aficionado, but I’ve eaten my unfair share.  There aren’t many people who get to be my size without enjoying a donut or two…..dozen.  Apple Fritters, cinnamon rolls, glazed, jelly filled, cream filled, I honestly love ’em all and wanted to see if Mary Lou’s would live up to my new expectations.

So last weekend, as promised, my wife got up early (before we headed to  breakfast with the whole family at The Downtowner) and stopped by the small Swiss chalet style building that nearly everyone in Lafayette (but obviously NOT me) go to to get their doughnut fix.  It’s just a few miles from her parent’s house, so it wasn’t long before my wife returned with the goodies.  She bought a couple dozen (for the whole family not just me) and got an assortment so I could get an good idea why everyone in the area loved Mary Lou.

I had a couple right then, and have to admit I did enjoy them.  Were they the best donuts I’d ever had….no.  Were they better than average, without a doubt.  Will it be 20+ years before we visit Mary Lou again?  I can guarantee you that we’ll see Mary Lou again VERY soon.  How my wife had ‘forgotten’ to mention Mary Lou Donuts I’ll never know, but I’m glad that I finally met this Lafayette legend.

I wish I could share them with you right now, but in all honesty I don’t often share my donuts.  I have to keep up my physique.  But I am willing to share a few pictures with you!  Here’s just a sample of what Mary Lou has to offer 6 days a week.  So far, my only complaint about my new friend Mary Lou…. she’s closed on Sundays.  Click on the image to see these beauties up close.  And make sure to have a napkin handy!Mary Lou Donuts Lafayette IN

Rexall Drugs

Remembering Rexall

When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s almost every town big and small had at least one Rexall Drug Store. The bright orange and blue signs were hard to miss.

The small town where I spent most of my youth, Quincy, IL had 4 Rexall stores that I can remember. Three of them were known as Brown’s Rexall and the one in the big shopping center on the edge of town (that one day was made into and enclosed mall) was called Key Rexall.

Over the years we spent a lot of time at the Rexall refilling prescriptions, and buying the necessities like aspirin, shampoo and Rexall’s famous Hot Lemon Cold & Flu Remedy.

But my fondest Rexall memory, was the yearly visit from the Duncan Yo-Yo Demonstration Team. I rarely missed their visits to the Key Rexall, and still have a few of my Duncan Imperial and Butterfly yo-yo’s tucked away.

Sadly, due to a hostile corporate takeover most Rexall’s faded away in the mid 1980’s. And while many of the drugstores stayed open, they were no longer affiliated with Rexall, and it wasn’t quite the same.

These days as I travel throughout the south I’m amazed by the fact that you can still see a Rexall sign from time to time. Most of the drugstores are sadly long gone, but I’m thrilled that other people still share my fondness for those old Rexall signs.

Many of these signs lost their neon years ago, but I can tell that folks like me just aren’t ready to part with the memories of their hometown drugstore. I’ve compiled a short video to share some of the signs I’ve recently found in my travels across Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. Some are still lit, but sadly most are just holding on…

The soundtrack for this trip down memory lane is: “Water Droplets on the River” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I Went UP To The Crossroads

Eric Clapton once sang the lyrics… “I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees”… Of course, if you’re a fan of the blues, you know that those words were originally sung by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.

Obviously the crossroads that they were singing about were different than the crossroads I found a short time ago.  I don’t think that they were talking about the Crossroads Of America, Schererville, Indiana.

Schererville, IN

Awhile back, my wife and I stopped for breakfast at the Round The Clock Family Restaurant in Schererville.  As we were leaving we found this mural…. on the back of the building.  I couldn’t find any explanation why it was there, and more importantly, why it wasn’t displayed somewhere more prominently.

The mural depicts the history of the area.  From the famed Kiddie Land, and Iron Bridge to Lincoln Way and Indianapolis Blvd.  I had to stop and get a snapshot.

Oh and if you ever find yourself in Schererville, stop by the Round The Clock.  I highly recommend the Buttermilk Pancakes and the Grecian Omelette!

Larger Than Life #1

Today we’ll begin an ongoing series of picture posts looking at some of my favorite attractions and oddities across America. I’ve always enjoyed seeing strange roadside attractions. Most are just used for advertising purposes, but have fascinated me none the less.

There’s actually a popular website that highlights many of these attractions. It’s called Roadside America and you can check it out HERE to see many of these larger than life attractions.

Today’s we’re focusing the spotlight on Mr Bendo. He is a giant fiberglass man that is located in front of Ralph’s Muffler Shop (1250 W. 16th St., Indianapolis). I’s just down the street from Indy’s old Bush Stadium. Mr Bendo is one of the attractions that are called “Muffler Men”. You can learn more about the muffler man and his mutant friends on the Roadside America website. They even have a special page dedicated to the muffler men. Here’s a look at Mr Bendo:

The Muffler Man The Muffler Man
The Muffler Man The Muffler Man