Report From Idaho (Part One)
February 13th, 2016

It’s a tedious drive in the wintertime, northwestwardly bound on windswept I-84 across the snowed over rolling hills of southern Idaho. Here and there stands a forlorn farmhouse, boarded up and all but drifted over. On the radio, you find nothing but preaching and right-wing jeremiads. Thanks largely to Barack Obama, the world is coming to an end. Time to stock up on ammunition and survival rations!

Unless I blow a tire, there’s only one place I ever stop: Molly’s Café in Snowville. Molly’s is tucked away behind an interstate truck stop on what was once the main highway, and I’d never have found it were it not for the late cowboy poet Colen Sweeten, Jr., who introduced me to the place ten years ago. So fond was Sweeten of Molly’s diner that he even wrote a poem about it.


“Two cowboys met in Snowville
One said, ‘Looks like I’m in luck.
I see you have your lariat
Hangin’ right there in the truck.

“I need some help to do a job
And it should be done right now,
So come on home with me
And help me with that cow.

“It won’t take but a minute
And to show you I’m no dud,
I’ll take you down to Molly’s
And buy your morning cup o’ mud.

“It didn’t take long to treat that cow
And they even stopped and fed ‘er.
Boots with fresh manure hit Molly’s floor
Like a loaded John Deere spreader.

“Pretty soon the cups ran low,
They were holdin’ em up for more,
When Molly herself came bustin’ out
From behind that kitchen door.

“’Did either of you fellows notice
The empty tables, both sides of you?’
The cowboys cracked a grin,
‘Aw hell, that’s nothin’ new.’

“’That’s just my point exactly,
And now you’d darn sure better listen,
Nest time you bring your corral in her
Some teeth will soon be missin’.

‘’And if I can’t run my business
Without that barnyard smell—‘
Her voice dropped to a whisper,
‘I’ll scald you, sure as Hell.’

“Now things are so much better
I just can’t believe my eyes,
Cowboys would rather wear Stetsons
Than one of Molly’s pies.”

Luckily, my boots were clean. Sadly, Molly, now in her eighties, has recently retired due to failing health. However, her diner goes on, thanks to a loyal clientele that consists almost entirely of local farmers and stockmen.

“I was reading in a history book that Snowville once boasted three thousand residents,” the waitress told me. “But now, we’re down to just a hundred and fifty.”

For a time, I was the only customer in the place. As the cook prepared my eggs and sausage, the lone waitress wiped down the windows. Outside, not a creature was stirring except for a large black dog, which was ambling from door to door in search of something or other.

By and by a ladder truck pulled up out front. Yesco Sign Company had come to fix the sign out front, which had burned out three weeks earlier. Presently a second customer appeared, wearing a seed cap and insulated overalls. Next, a young woman swept through the door, spoke briefly to the waitress, then dashed off.

“My daughter-in-law,” explained the waitress. She spends most of her time nowadays working on her hair.”


My sausage and eggs arrived, along with a generous helping of hash browns. I didn’t need to ask for ketchup and hot sauce—such condiments appear automatically at Molly’s, and you’d probably get into trouble were you to object. Just like cowboys who stink of manure, management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. Take, for example, the transgendered truck driver.

“It was a big stock hauler,” explained the waitress, “and the driver was a very large woman. It took me awhile to figure out that ‘she’ was actually a ‘he.’”

However, gender identity wasn’t the big issue. Trouble didn’t arise until the husky shemale truck driver began to complain about the décor.

“What’s with the COWBOY sign?” she/he asked. “And the CATTLEMEN sign? That stuff is sexist. You need to take it down!”

“And replace it with what? I wondered aloud. COWPERSONS? CATTLEPERSONS?”

“That’s what I told her,” said the waitress. “This is cattle country, and it’s our café. ‘If you don’t like it,’ I said, ‘then you can just take your business elsewhere!’”

I consider myself a defender of gender equality; however, words like “chairperson” and “waitperson”just grate on my ear drums. So I don’t fault Molly’s waitress for giving the boot to an overbearing transgendered truck driver. When in Snowville, it’s best to take what you get. And besides, who doesn’t want ketchup and hot sauce on his/her hash browns?

-Richard Menzies