Richard, Issue #6
The Doo-Dah Counter is well made. If it is only half filled, with everyone sitting toward one end, it does not tilt. Baffling as this may be to anyone who has sat on a teeter-totter, it may be explained by the same magnetism that draws only interesting people to its stools. These interesting people, along with the famous Doo-Dah meals, are what make The Counter so special. To take advantage, just smile, say, “Good morning,” and start asking questions. You’ll be glad. So will they.
When I thought I heard a giggle from the man on my left, I checked, and, sure enough, there was a grin to go with it. It made my day. He was reading one of my Counter Chats. I learned that he was here from the Seattle area to coach a team made up of exceptional players from around the state of Washington. They were here to compete in the National Baseball Congress, which is located, for the 84th and last time, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. He had requested fried onions on his bologna and egg sandwich. It brought back memories of his childhood, and you could tell by the look on his face that they were pleasant ones. He arranged to bring about ten more people with him to the Doo-Dah the next day.
I met a young man from Houston. He sells seismic data to gas and oil companies and comes to town three or four times a year. He has a son who is almost two years old and another baby on the way. He wishes he had brought his wife and son along on this trip before the boy reaches two years old and has to pay air fare. One of his customers is Murfin Drilling, Inc., the president of which I met at the Doo- Dah counter recently. I introduced that president to the teenager on my right who was in town from Kansas City for a baseball camp. While I leaned back out of their way, trying not to fall off the stool, the two of them had fun getting acquainted. (over)
The charming woman who was dodging my left elbow, as she plucked at her chicken-fried steak, manages three non-profit funds which award scholarships to top law students at Washburn, Notre Dame, and Kansas Universities. The purpose of the funds is to make it easier for graduates who would like to practice in the state of Kansas to do so. Thanks to the financial aid, they do not have to accept higher-paying work elsewhere in order to repay school loans. A recipient must have lived in Kansas ten years. This seems to be the criterion for having learned to enjoy the feel of the winds of the plains. She says the program has been quite successful, with 87% of the participants having settled here. You will not be surprised to hear that, after surveying restaurants within a 60-mile radius of Wichita, she declares the chicken-fried steak at the Doo-Dah Diner to be the best. The seasoning is just right, but the ratio of the breading to the meat was the cinching factor.
The person on my left owned a company which designs airplane interiors. On the right was a man who was in charge of fabricating Grasshopper Mowers. I didn’t know such a thing existed. They range in price from about 5,000 to 52,000 dollars.
The likable 30-year-old had tattoos even on his fingers. After having lived in Seattle, California, and Mexico, he now works at a health food store in Wichita, where he has family. He talked as if he had been through some hard times.
There are not as many birds as there used to be below the dam south of the Lincoln Street bridge on the river. That’s all right. It is worth the four-minute drive from the Doo-Dah Diner to observe even a few egrets, ducks, pigeons, gulls, geese, or maybe a blue heron or two, while listening to the roar of the waterfall. Drive south a half mile to Lincoln Street, head west a few blocks, turn south at the east end of the bridge, hook a right at the tracks, and you will find a place to park by the river. Next to the ramp on which kayaks and fish can change levels, there are two no-fishing signs which demark a favorite fishing area for both egrets and humans. If you are lucky, you may even get to count the cars on a train crossing the railroad bridge. It’s a relaxing spot to loll as dessert after savoring The Doo-Dah Counter.