Friends, Good Food, and a Day in the Country

So this past Saturday I went to my long-time friend’s place out in the country, near Rocheport, Missouri. His name is David and I’ve known him since the mid-80s, when I was a graduate student at Webster University-Saint Louis. We are both commercial photographers by profession, and we worked together in a large studio in downtown St. Louis. I remember many times after a frustrating day in the studio, he and I would head off to the Central West End or out near Union Station to hoist a brewski or two. Although I think two or three of my favorite outings with him were for food, if you could call it that! One tavern (maybe Larry’s Tavern???) we used to visit served a dish called something like a “Flinger”….a plate full of chili, criss-cross fries, onions, and other stuff I don’t remember. Although on the other hand, he and I, and sometimes the rest of the studio gang would go to O.T. Hodges Chile Parlor and have a “Slinger”…which hasn’t changed in over 20 years….two cheeseburgers on a plate, smothered in chili with hashbrowns and a fried egg on top! Another favorite dive David and I used to visit was in St. Louis’ “Dogtown”, an Irish enclave. The joint was McDermott’s Tavern, now known as Pat’s Bar & Grill. Here, we used to get longneck bottles of Busch beer and deep-fried chicken livers with toast tips. Man, I look back at my grad days diet and it’s no wonder I ended up with stomach problems!!!

Anyway, after grad school David and I parted ways, but not our friendship. I moved up to Wisconsin were I photographed cheese, sausage, and chocolate for over 13 years. During that time, David flew away and spent time in England. We occassionaly hooked up during that time, like canoe camping up in the far north.  Eventually he moved back to central Missouri and spent a number of years in Columbia restoring his antique cars and then finally building his really cool, eclectic silver “folly” of a house out past Rocheport.

About two and half years ago, I was fortunate to land a full-time professor gig at the University of Central Missouri were I teach in the photography program. Turns out we’re only a bit over an hour drive time from each other! David is a marvelous host in that about twice a year he has these “gatherings” at his place. Old friends and new ones all converge on his place for an afternoon of great eats, like in “pot luck” and of course beer and wine. What’s interesting at these gatherings are his eclectic mix of friends. I always thought it was cool that I had known David for over 20 years, but this past Saturday I met some of his friends who’ve known him over 30 years. Wow! It’s always an interesting mix of people, mostly artist types and numerous professors from MU, Columbia College, or Stephens College. These gatherings are always a blast and this time he added to it by having an artist setup a kiln in the backyard and guests got to fire their pottery! Sadly, I had to leave before David fired up the grill in the evening for some imported British style “bangers and mash“. So, the moral here is life is good, when you have good friends, good food, and an excellent day in the country!

Dr. Gene Robertson on left wearing ballcap, David sitting in middle with blue shirt, my sweetheart sitting in back wearing pink, and some other artists from MU that I don’t remember their names, unfortunately!

Removing pottery from kiln in David’s backyard.

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