Poutine is also a French-Canadian delicacy consisting of fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. I got the chance to try this tasty treat while visiting the Quad Cities, nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River where it forms the Iowa-Illinois state line. As we remarked to the waiter, “This will be the best poutine we’ve ever had. Because it’s also the only poutine we’ve ever had!” All but my youngest grandniece tried it. She thought it smelled like dog food. Next we went for an ice cream treat at Whitey’s, and as we were getting back into the car where the leftover container of poutine had been left sitting, we all let out a collective groan: “The car smells like poutine!”. No one is going to be coming out with a poutine-scented air freshener or Yankee Candle anytime soon.
I would apologize for the digression, but this entire post is a digression, maybe even a grand detour, before getting back to the Business & Baseball post.
In my travels, I actually made it to all four of the Quad Cities, hitting the Wal-Mart in Bettendorf, Iowa; the Front Street Brewery in Davenport, Iowa, where we had the poutine; Huckleberry’s Pizza in Rock Island, and finally the Olde Towne Bakery in Moline, Illinois, where I found the best cream horns ever. This makes up just a little for the time I spent a couple of years ago in my fruitless search for bismarks in Bismarck, North Dakota. And, no one even got it, when I asked for a bismarck. That should have been funny. Bah! I could not find a bismarck in Bismarck. They’re missing out on a major tourist attraction there. What a missed opportunity. The cream horns alone were worth the trip to Moline, though.
While we were there, we also visited the John Deere Pavilion and had a blast crawling all over and getting inside the various farm implements they had on display, and purchasing the obligatory souvenirs and T-shirts. We never knew how enamored we were with John Deere and his story of farm implement innovation, making perhaps the first self-scouring steel plow in 1837. And there is a New England connection. He originally came from Rutland, Vermont. Talk about optimism, persistence, determination, and fearlessness. He had borrowed money to build his blacksmith shop there in Vermont. It burned down, and so he borrowed some more money and re-built his shop. It burned down again. Figuring that it was unlikely that his lender was going to say, “Hey, third time’s the charm,” he set off for Grand Detour, Illinois, with $73 in his pocket, and went about making a living there, earning enough to pay off his debts in Vermont and pay for his family to travel out and join him, and the rest is history.
Grand Detour. What an apt name for a town. It’s actually named for an unusual twist and turn that the Rock River takes, where it flows to the north briefly, a brief aberration before returning to the southwestwardly flow typical of the streams in this area as they make their way toward the mighty Mississippi. Suffice it to say, that sometimes our lives (and blogs) take just such detours.
And history is never without controversy. When you go back and talk to folks around Chicago, there is also the story of John Lane who also created a steel plow from an old sawmill blade at his blacksmith shop in Lockport, Illinois, in 1834 (Stanley, 1994). He also came from out east, where wood plows worked okay in the sandier soils, but the rich soils of the Midwest would tend to stick to the plow and gum things up. John Lane was selling his plows, called “Lockport Clippers” and “Sod Breakers,” in the Chicago area by the 1850s.
Later on, when I give my Dad his John Deere T-shirt that I brought back for him, he remarks, “Well, to be honest, I personally liked the McCormick tractors. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were both powerful tractors, but the McCormick ran better.” There is a long, complicated history of farm implement manufacturers, such as Deering, McCormick, and others working in direct competition with each other, then getting bought by J.P. Morgan and merged in 1902 to form International Harvester, and then getting split and sold off again much later in parts and pieces. It’s a cautionary tale for any business. The International Harvester Scout was a great car, a ton of fun, and the original SUV. But a flawed business model and a woeful 12 mpg simply made it unsustainable. Every once in a while I try to revive my one-person campaign to Bring Back The Scout. I am not terribly hopeful or optimistic.
While I’ve been out, I’ve also been catching up on my reading. I wanted to finish Jack and Suzy Welch’s book, The Real-Life MBA, but I was also in the middle of reading Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars, and so I needed to finish both.
In the meantime, so many stories broke, so much news was made.
The Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner aired on April 24, 2015 on ABC.
Caitlyn Jenner was introduced to the world on the July cover of Vanity Fair magazine June 1st.
The New England Patriots #DeflateGate penalties were announced. Memorial Day was observed, reminding us not to confuse those things that we treat like life-or-death with things that really are. Robert Kraft made the right decision. Move on.
The Boston Red Sox drafted Clate Schmidt June 11th (no relation). Welcome to town, and wishing you all the best with your treatment.
Ireland voted on a referendum Friday May 22nd, approving same-sex marriage. “A kiss for luck and we’re on our way…” Ukraine held its Gay Pride parade, KyivPride2015, along the Dnipro River June 6th. Boston’s Gay Pride parade will be held Saturday, June 13th. And, the new season of Orange Is The New Black starts Friday June 12th.
Beantown Women’s Rugby Football Club will be playing the Seattle Saracens in the Division I Club National Championships Saturday evening, June 13th, at Infinity Park, in Glendale, Colorado. Good luck, Town! There is still time to donate to help fund the team’s travel costs.
Go Forward, Support!
Coming NextI will give my take on the talk, “Business & Baseball,” held Wednesday night, April 22, 2015, at the Seaport Hotel, an interview with two local Boston business icons, Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) and John Henry (owner of The Boston Globe, Boston Red Sox, and the Liverpool Football Club, and by “football” I mean soccer), moderated by Globe Editor, Brian McGrory.
ReferencesStanley, Charles, 1994. Plow Inventor’s Role Still Buried in History. The Chicago Tribune. May 27, 1994.
© 2015 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life.” Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me.
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