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By Any Other Name…

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Chapter 24 Scotcharoo’d: What’s in a name? A few things! Here in Rolfe the gas station we used to have was called “The Pronto.” Now we have a nice, new gas station with a larger eating area. A favorite place for farmers to meet and shoot the breeze, and gaggles of ladies as well (rarely at the same time!).

HT-051 gas

“Pronto” must be a chain, because when sending photos to Nina, this is what I sent her for the gas station in case gas stations are different in the Ukraine. This isn’t OUR Pronto, but it looks awfully close!

While the new place just a few hundred feet down the block was being constructed, there was a contest were you could enter your name suggestion for our new fancy place. I am an extreme creature of habit! I wanted it to be “The Pronto” as well! No? Okay, how ’bout “The PronTWO!”? (Because in my crafty mind, I knew it would still be called by it’s original name)

Well, I lost. I stubbornly and for a long time continued writing my checks to “The Pronto” when I would make my purchases (in Iowa it’s no shame to write checks, people do it all the time. So I do too. This place was meant for me. I’m not good at remembering to enter every little entry into my checkbook, but those little carbons! THOSE I can easily SEE!). Anyway, I was told I had to use the new name, otherwise the checks wouldn’t work. But I still call it “The Pronto” in my heart!

So when I needed a setting for Maxwell and Marlene’s second meeting, well. Reliance, Iowa doesn’t have a restaurant, but they have a gas station! I decided to call it…nope! Not “The Pronto”! The Giddyup.


These caramels were really, really GOOD.

As Marlene makes her way into the gas station to meet Maxwell, trying to keep the plastic wrap on her Scotcharoos in the constant Iowa wind, she meets two farmers on their way out. It’s a small thing, but the first farmer is named for what was to me a main character here in town. Several days before our first Christmas here, Julie, her husband Scott and I were walking around town. It was a beautiful, snowy day and there was a feeling of well being and joy. Not for any particular reason, there just was. With all three of us. At once.

Just walking down the street, knowing everyone who passed in that short amount of time that we lived there (because there weren’t that many to know), waving, shouts of “Merry Christmas” without a second thought…and up comes Tom in his large red dual wheel truck to chat for a bit. And he gave us caramels. And it was the cherry on that day.

Tom passed away recently. In this first book of the series there aren’t a lot of names to hand around, but I knew that one of them would be for him.

The second farmer is Spencer. A wonderful, classic name. And, it also happens to be the name of a very dear, dear friend’s son. So there you have it!

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It’s a STAPLE of Iowa!


This is the picture I sent to Nina for reference on what Scotcharoos are. They say a way to a man’s heart is through his belly. Hmm…Good luck, Marlene. You’re going to need it.

When I first moved to Iowa, there were several words and phrases I’d never heard before, especially pertaining to food. What the heck is “Broasted Chicken”? Why is “Dinner” at noon? What’s a “Made Right”?

But the catchiest new term of all was SCOTCHAROOS. What is it? A cookie? A drink? Turn’s out, it’s a bar! I finally had a chance to have one awhile back and for me it fully captures the essence of Iowa – and most likely, the Midwest – that I love so much: They are Sweet and Old-Fashioned, two of my most favoritest things.

So when the opportunity arose to write an Iowa-centric book, I just had to put some Scotcharoos in there. Guess whose hands I put them in? MARLENE’S, that’s whose! Guess who she’s going to give them to? As if her feminine wiles weren’t enough already…

Tonight, at midnight! Marlene hops aboard her broom again in Chapter 24’s Scotcharoo’d.