Day 462: Purloin in Du Quoin

Leaving Flora, Laetitia and her group went to Stephen A. Forbes State Park, near Kinmundy, Illinois for some hiking and wildlife watching. The park was named after Stephen Alfred Forbes, a Civil War veteran who was a founder and first director of the Illinois State Laboratory of Natural History. Later they stopped at Salem, Illinois and visited the home of William Jennings Bryan. Bryan was secretary of state under President Woodrow Wilson. He was a religious zealot who was an avid supporter of prohibition and a staunch adversary of evolution, serving as prosecutor in the 1925 Scopes Trial. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was charged with violating a Tennessee law that made the teaching of evolution illegal. Famous Chicago lawyer Clarence Darrow defended Scopes.

The group went on to Du Quoin, where they were spending the evening. Illinois has two state fairs: one at Springfield and one at Du Quoin. For many years (1957–1980), a trotting horse race called the Hambletonian was held at the racetrack on the fairgrounds. The track features car races as well.

Few would go to southern Illinois for its food, but an acquaintance had told Laetitia about an unpretentious restaurant on U.S. Highway 51 that had great barbeque. She made arrangements to meet the group there for dinner. She told them that afterward they would go up the road to the Black Top Polka Club near Du Bois, a place recommended by her Uncle Ralph.

Having finished that, she went to a local bar for happy hour. Laetitia based the limerick of the day on some gossip about an amorous magician whose lack of restraint wore out his welcome to perform at the local high school.

A magician who came to Du Quoin
From the ear of young Gwen pulled a coin
Then one from her nose
Then her pantyhose
As her virtue he tried to purloin.