Country Facts and Folklore
By Andy Reddick


For years patrons would try to read the strange little sign that hung over the glass mirror of Hotel Manningís dining room soda fountain. Seville dare dago; tousin busses enaro; nojo demstrux; summit cousin; summit dux. "What language is this?" people would ask. "What does it mean?"

Mabel Miller and her waitresses had a lot of fun with the sign. Visitors would sometimes spend hours pondering the message. Those that already knew smiled silently to themselves, for once they also had tried in vain to figure out the signís meaning.

The letters of the sign were carefully etched into wood. Lacquered or varnished, the sign itself made a handsome addition to the bar. Most people guessed that it was Spanish and probably had something to do with the history of the building or of Keosauqua. Some ventured that it was a French saying.

The hotel dining room was handsome. Guests could follow the narrow, highly polished, hardwood floors across the room, through the double doors, and across the lobby past the massive wooden open staircase that led to the sleeping rooms above. The ornate woodwork, including the ceiling beams and the wood around the transom doors and the twelve-foot high windows was natural oak and beautiful wallpaper graced the walls up to the fourteen foot ceiling.

On one side of the dining room was an antique breakfront buffet displaying a silver tray and tea set, with an oval mirror hanging on the wall above it. In the corner was a small counter area where cigarettes were displayed for sale on the wall behind the cash register.

Along the wall on the other side of the dining room were four padded booths. An array of small card-size tables each with four wooden chairs were spread across the dining room. Each table had a white linen tablecloth, napkins, place settings and a small vase of flowers directly in the center.

There were six barstools along a counter in front of the soda fountain. Here is where people would sit and ponder, gazing at the strange sign, which translated, read, "See Willie! There they go. Thousand busses in a row." "No, Joe! Themís trucks. Some with cows in! Some with ducks!"

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Contributed to the Van Buren Co. IAGenWeb Project by Andy Reddick