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What Is This Thing That Nancy Leson Brought Back From The Midwest?

Nancy Leson
What IS this thing?

Nancy Leson's just back from a trip to downstate Illinois where she ate not wisely but too well. Besides the extra avoirdupois, she also brought back the rust bucket pictured above. It came from the estate of her husband Mac's aunt. Can you guess what it is?Give up? It's a crank-operated dough kneader for making bread in large batches — which, to hear Nancy tell it, is the way everything is served in downstate Illinois.

"What fascinated me about everywhere I went was a lot of meat, a lot of potatoes, and a lot of starches in general," she told me. "The amount of food that is offered to you relatively inexpensively compared to around here — it's so shocking to me how inexpensive everything is compared to living in the Seattle area."

My memories of Midwest-eating are limited to a fresh-boiled corn shack I stopped at once on a cross-country road trip and a place called Lum's in Indianapolis. Their specialty was hot dogs steamed in beer, and I loved them. Lum's must have had plenty of other fans because at some point in the early '60s, they bought Caesar's Palace in Vegas.

"I just want to be a nice girl from the Midwest."

– Cindy Crawford

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.