Lee’s Chicken Restaurant, Lincoln, Nebraska

Happy St. Nicholas Day to my Czech and German friends! Here’s hoping you’re not captured by the devil, stuffed in a bag by Knecht Ruprecht or spirited away by the Krampus!

You regular readers know that I often peruse the roadsideamerica.com website for ideas to visit, photograph and bring to you. Well, recently I went along with my husband on a business trip to Lincoln, Nebraska (more posts from there in the future), so I visited roadside to find something interesting to photograph. One of them was Lee’s Chicken Restaurant, listed on that site because of the giant chicken on a pole (very photogenic):

Lee’s is the oldest operating restaurant in Lincoln, according to their website. The website also tells us that the recipes are from Louisiana and that the place is “retro” – boy, was it!

So, since it was lunchtime, I went inside to see what they had to offer. It was like stepping into a southern restaurant! There were the requisite pictures of owners and regular customers on fishing trips, local newspaper articles about the place, etc., and a backlit daily specials board on the wood-paneled walls:

I settled into the vinyl booth near the cash register/bar and ordered the special and a Coke (is Pepsi ok?) from the friendliest waitress in the land:

The place was HUGE and low-ceilinged and looked as if it had been added onto a few times over the years. It reminded me of many one-off local places I’ve seen over the years in the South. But, of course, this was the Heartland. And, once a party of four left, I had the place all to myself, waiting on my meal.

I took the opportunity to photograph a few (and here are only a few) of the chickens placed around the vast dining area:

I’d read that someone actually stole the giant chicken a few years ago, cutting off his feet in the process. Although it was later recovered, I think, they got a new one and had a chicken-raising ceremony to put the new one on the pole:

Lee’s offered more than chicken, such as a shrimp basket, etc. Here’s the menu:

I was most interested in the history info on the back:

So I was right about the additions!

Presently my food arrived – it looked just like I expected, too:

The sides (yes, those are instant mashed potatoes) reminded me of school cafeteria fare, right down to the plate and plastic bread basket and drink glass. But the chicken was freshly fried. After I added a pinch of salt, it was delicious! I’ve been on a quest for good fried chicken ever since moving to Colorado – not sure why it’s so hard to accomplish out here. But Lee’s got very close indeed.

An uber-friendly waitress told me that the fry-cook, who’d worked there 11 years, was actually a vegetarian. The cook apparently also cooks meat for her five children at home, too! Whatever it takes! The server also told me that the management was fantastic and people loved working there. I’m always glad to hear that – food service is hard enough without having jerks for managers.

When I eventually got my check, I discovered I’d order the “Quickie” – hmmm!
At any rate, I’d recommend Lee’s to anyone looking for a hearty, rib-sticking meal in a really laid-back environment. Although the place was old, it wasn’t as shabby as you’d expect, and it was very clean. And the friendliness of the staff is super – it was so much more than just a big chicken on a pole!

Photo for No Apparent Reason:

Gravesite of Bo Diddley in Bronson, Florida

I am increasingly enamored of roadside attractions in the US these days. There is nothing comparable to them in Europe. It’s one slice of Americana that is pointless and fascinating at the same time. I’ve visited a few around here in the past, including the Airstream Ranch (which is, sadly for me, recently defunct) and the IST building at Florida Polytechnic. (If you haven’t seen my pictures of them, you really should – they are stunning, if I do say so myself!)

For researching these peculiar sights, I use RoadsideAmerica.com a lot. Whilst perusing this site for my recent trip to Micanopy that I wrote about last week, I discovered that musician Bo Diddley’s grave is located in nearby Bronson, Florida. So I scheduled that into my itinerary.

It’s in the Rosemary Hill Cemetery. Bronson was more difficult to find than the grave! It’s at the intersection of NE State Road 24 and State Highway 27, west of Micanopy. The cemetery is right on 24 and the grave is right along the road:

I drove through the cemetery on that little, narrow, paved path they have until I came up parallel to the headstone. You can see here how close it is to the road (love that big tree!):

In fact, a couple of passing motorists honked their horns at me while I was there taking pictures.

Now, I didn’t know much about Bo Diddley before I took these photos. But I did some research about him for this blog:

He was born in McComb, MS, in 1928 and was a legendary blues guitarist and vocalist. His original name was Ellas Bates McDaniel, and he was adopted by a family that moved him to Chicago at a young age. He studied violin while in elementary school and changed his name to Bo Diddley allegedly after the name of a one-stringed African instrument called the diddley bow.

In his teens he learned to make musical instruments in vocational school. At the age of 15, he constructed his first rectangular guitar, which was to become his trademark, hence the image on the headstone.

He toured for almost six decades and was one of the most influential guitarists and vocalists in blues and rock. Two of his most famous songs are “I’m a Man” and “Who Do You Love?” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Interestingly, he attributed his long career to the fact that he abstained from drugs and alcohol.

He had a home in Archer, Florida, about 10 miles from Bronson. He died there of heart failure in 2008.

You owe it to yourself to read more about this man. There are good articles on the Rolling Stone Magazine website, Biography.com and a website called Our Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There is much more to him, his life and his music than I have time for here.

However, what moved me about this grave were the personal items from his family: 

The guitar pick is cool!

It was touching to realize this famous, influential musician was also a beloved family man, too. I’m glad I paid my respects.

Oh, and if anybody knows why he was called Pharoah, please let me know. I couldn’t find anything about that online.

Photo for No Apparent Reason: