Somebody on a Facebook page this past week asked where the best fried chicken in Springfield could be found. There were about a million opinions, including several vote getters that we didn’t know existed. We decided to take a ride to Ozark and visit a popular choice, Rosie Jo’s Cafe. Upon entering, we knew providence had smiled upon us. Behold a country cafe, packed at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, with a generation or two of folks who should know something about fried chicken tearing into massive platters of pan fried chicken, potatoes that were either baked, mashed or pan fried, slaw or a vegetable, Texas Toast and your choice of a beverage. More about the menu in a bit.
We also walked into what seemed like old home week. A gentleman who I don’t remember inquired if I was Steve Johnson, the trooper that writes and another gentleman struck up a conversation with us as we waited to be seated. As luck would have it, the second gentleman, a retired coach named Randy Swearengin and I had much in common besides our age. He was seated at the table next to us. He coached in and around the same conference that I played High School baseball in and we knew many of the same people that he coached and I grew up with. We talked John Brown basketball and education then and now, with Sharon able to more than carry her own about the latter. He was with a brother and his father, a retired minister, who knew what it was like to be raised by a widowed young mother in a time when many of life’s needs were in short supply. He is also facing a huge health issue, but it has not drained one ounce of his coach’s wisdom and enthusiasm. Randy talked about a coach’s role in developing character and confronting the challenges of growing up. He was the epitome of a tough, kind, and skilled High School and college coach, the kind of guy who will get every ounce of what you have and send you home for more. He both new and coached a number of young folks who went on to become troopers and other law enforcement officers. In short, he made me proud to have come from a rural environment where not everyone gets a trophy!
Back to this cafe. I noted on Trip Advisor, after we returned home, that a number of folks recoiled at the idea of waiting for honest to goodness pan fried chicken. Sorry, this isn’t the simulated chicken parts you get in a box. Sharon loves gizzards and livers and the platter, too hot to touch, of these delectables was piled 4 inches high, with all the afore mentioned sides. A chicken dinner is four pieces, any combination, from all white to all dark and go boxes are an absolute necessity. They have all you can eat cat fish and the pies had meringue piled high. Pie not your thing, finish with a cup of soft serve, vanilla or chocolate or both. Read this sentence carefully, without pie, our total check was 21.73, with ice cream. Yes, two beautiful pan fried chicken dinners and soft drinks for a 20 spot and change. To be honest, I don’t know what else is on the menu….my cap was set coming in the door when I saw the chicken coming out of the kitchen.
What a beautiful day. Visiting with an old coach who knew so many of the same people in our lives over 50 years ago who shares your concerns with the latest slant in America. Listening to his father, a product of a long ago Missouri where anything you had, you earned. A man who would never abandon our Lord under any circumstance. Mounds of fried chicken with plenty of pan gravy if that is what you want, and a conversation about both education and character involving Sharon at every turn.
I can guarantee you will love Rosie Jo’s if you like chicken. Bring a little patience and an appetite. You will need them both………and you won’t need to wait until payday!
Have a great weekend!