Today’s prompt of “Blue-Plate special,” comes from a term that means a low-priced meal at a diner that changes daily. This frugal meal brought back memories of visiting Tightwad, Missouri, a little village with a population of less than 70 people that was just down the road from my grandmother’s farm when I was a kid. Yes, you heard that correctly, the actual name of the town is Tightwad, a word used to refer to a miserly person. Legend has it that a postman was making deliveries there and saw a watermelon he wanted at the grocery. Not wanting to carry it around all day with him, he asked the grocer to hold it for him, but when he returned to buy it later that day, the grocer had already sold it. Apparently, to someone who said they’d give him 50 cents more for it. The postman declared the man a “tightwad!” and no doubt continued to do so each time he saw him after that. Some sources say it was a rooster instead, which looks nothing like a watermelon, so this one can probably just be chalked up to local lore. But, no matter the exact story, I always thought the name was hilarious and wonderful so it was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid. I’ve completely imagined this table setting from Tightwad Cafe, as I haven’t been back there since I was young, but I’ve heard the food is amazing, so if you’re ever in Tightwad, definitely check it out!
I adored going out to eat at all the little places around my grandparent’s house. They lived near Truman Lake, a large and expansive lake, and the views were amazing. The food was always good old-fashioned country home cooking and I adored it. Sure, green beans might be the only fiber or indeed color to be found on the plate, beyond the plate itself, but they were always fresh from the farm! Once, we had a family reunion at the one and only park shelter to be found in Tightwad. It was fun and memorable and I enjoyed every minute. I actually took a picture, which I’ve made available in my Freshly Curious Free Photos for Artists & Writers archive, of the restrooms available on that day that just made me giggle. Yeah, if you’re curious, I stopped at a modern gas station on the way home. But, it was fun to reconnect with family just steps away from Tightwad Bank. Yep, that’s probably the best name for a bank that ever existed. And it’s quite popular as around 20% of the accounts are from tourists who are thrilled to write a check to their utility company using a check with a Tightwad Bank logo on it.
In truth, I’ve not thought of Tightwad in years, so this is why I adore these daily prompts. They always spark memories that, while wonderful, might have been totally forgotten. Though I only visited the country, having grown up in the suburbs and then moving to the city as an adult, I still love the memories of spending my summers there. Life wasn’t always simple in the country, as there are plenty of issues to deal with wherever we end up in life. But, it had a certain sincerity that I think is sometimes lacking in the city. Perhaps that’s why I was always thrilled to learn that I got to spend time on my grandparent’s farm. It was like escaping to a completely different land and so thrilling and wonderful. And sure, parts were very simple indeed. I was a kid living in a time before the Internet and so I never felt like I was missing anything more than perhaps one of my television shows. Yet, who needed television when you had an entire green land to explore and a chance discover new things? And, though I miss those amazing times, I mostly just miss the company of my grandparents, who shaped my life in ways I’m sure they never knew. So, it was extraordinarily lovely to travel back in time today and once again experience those Tightwad memories.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Opus (Vivid Pink), Vermilion, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!