Laetitia and her group headed south into Missouri, to Sedalia. At one time Sedalia was a railhead for the Missouri Pacific Railway that interfaced with several cattle trails. Cattle were driven to Sedalia and shipped by train to the Chicago stockyards. During those early days, it was known as a center of vice, especially prostitution, and was dubbed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the “Sodom and Gomorrah” of the nineteenth century.
One of Sedalia’s most famous residents was Scott Joplin. He came there to attend music composition classes at one of America’s first all-black academic institutions, the George R. Smith College. While there, he performed at the Maple Leaf Club and the Black 400—social clubs for respectable black gentlemen. His famous Maple Leaf Rag is named after the Maple Leaf Club. Each year, Sedalia hosts the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation Festival. It was for this event that Laetitia chose to bring her group to Sedalia. After a day of concerts featuring ragtime music, Laetitia found her way to their motel bar to compose the day’s limerick.
Today’s gossip was about a local couple that had divorced after many years of marriage. The wife was from Kassel in northern Germany, once the capital of Westphalia. The husband met her when he was stationed there in the U.S. Army, and he married her and brought her home. They seemed to get along well enough until he discovered Vidalia onions, the extra-sweet onion variety developed in Vidalia, Georgia in the 1930s. He ate them with everything. When he had a hamburger, he always put an onion slice ½ inch thick on it. Often he ate onion sandwiches, and regularly asked his wife to make French onion soup. When they dined out he always wanted to go to a southern-style restaurant called the Screened Porch that featured deep-fried everything, including a Vidalia onion blossom. According to the gossip, she finally told him to choose between the onions and her. When he chose the onions, she divorced him and went back to Kassel.
A man from the city Sedalia
Who often ate onions Vidalia
Did, alas, his wife pique
For his breath did so reek
That she left and went home to Westphalia.