Helen Massey remembers the trucker, a regular customer, who ordered rare hamburgers at the Underpass Café and complained every time she served one. “I couldn’t get them rare enough for him,” she says with laugh. She finally outsmarted him.
Watch the video of Mrs. Massey, 88, at Saturday’s unveiling of the informational sign at the Underpass Café to hear how she did it.
The ceremony marked the completion of the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society’s restoration of the exterior of the café, which served local Phillipsburg residents and Route 66 travelers from 1950 until shortly after Interstate 44 bypassed it in 1957.
Outgoing Route 66 Society President Bill Jones gave a brief history of the café and removed the sign’s covering to applause from the dozen of Route 66 supporters in attendance.
Mrs. Massey then told a few stories about working at the café for $3 a day and later at the Nickerson Farms restaurant across I-44. She was accompanied Saturday by son Donnie and 4-year-old great-grandson Kaiden Burgess. Donnie was a toddler who napped in the café’s storeroom when his mom was working.
Ramona Lehman, owner of Lebanon’s Munger Moss Motel since 1971, kissed Mrs. Massey on both cheeks. “You’re precious,” she said.
The Underpass Cafe building is located on the farm of Gary McMillan, who gave his blessing to the restoration project and helped financially with it.