Fly-Over Country: The Backbone Of America

Fly-Over Country: The Backbone Of America

The stories, the dreams, the beating heart of America.

Mandy Snodgrass

It’s January 3rd, roughly 8 am, near the middle of nowhere, Missouri. The temperature is pushing around 25 degrees; this is a heat wave compared to the bitterness winter was punishing us with so far. The sun is shining, you can see your own breath, and there are roughly 165 miles between these desolate, frozen cattle pastures and the gleaming lights of civilization. Not surprisingly, this silent beauty was soon disrupted by yours truly. Anyone who knows me can tell you honestly that I turn into a raging monster the minute I become hungry. It became very apparent that we needed to make a breakfast stop, and it needed to happen fast.

We happened to be near Hermitage, Missouri, when a neon sign caught my attention. “Jack and Virginia’s Restaurant, it read, right across the way from the “Hickory County C.A.R.E.S. Thrift Store”. The parking lot was filled with big trucks and old Buicks, which generally means that cowboys and grandmas ate there. That also meant that it was probably stellar.

We walked in the door, and a few things immediately stood out to me. First of all, there were very few decorations. It was a very simplistic setup, with white walls, dining room styled tables, wire chairs, old fans and light fixtures, and thin curtains on the several windows that lined the wide walls. Secondly, I was the youngest in the room by probably 40 years, with one or two exceptions. Thirdly, it smelled amazing. I was practically drooling. Finally, it was silent, in the sense that there was no music playing. The only times a tune sounded while we were there was when the waitress’s phone rang, and then a polka song rang through the building.

The only waitress scurried out of the kitchen in an old U.S. Navy t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, and urged us to grab a seat. As we took our seats and settled in, she brought out coffee and water and began explaining her specials that day. She was surprisingly articulate, showing an impressive balance between her obvious curiosity about who we were and yet remaining pleasant and professional. After taking our order, she walked about the restaurant, taking orders and talking to the customers.

As she talked with each person there, I noticed that not only did she know every single person’s name, she knew their lives. The three old men in the back-corner drinking coffee talked about their grandkids and she congratulated them on their grandchildren being accepted to college, one as a first-generation student. She made her way to the couple in the middle of the restaurant and enthusiastically congratulated them on their 65 years of marriage, which they were celebrating that day with a big breakfast and a bouquet of roses. The two middle-aged men to the left of our table started discussing the cattle industry and the puppies their wives brought home without warning, and she jumped in and offered leftover ham for the dogs with a sly smile. When the petite elderly woman directly next to us who was eating alone began talking with the waitress, it was clear they were old friends, and the topic shifted to the waitress’s baby. As the old woman paid for her ticket, she pulled out a little onesie she had sewn just for the baby, and tears filled the waitress’s eyes. I was shocked. Not only did these people know each other, but they cared; they loved each other.

And then something hit me.

There is a spark that still smolders in mid-America. I saw it as I watched the old boys laugh in the corner at old stories. I saw it as I observed the waitress bussing tables and spreading smiles as she made a living to support her daughter’s future. I saw it as I watched the ranchers swapping cattle jokes and talking about vet bills. I saw it as the couple celebrating 65 years of marriage helped each other put their coats on and he still held her hand and made her chuckle as he tickled her while they were leaving the restaurant. In the creases that line the faces and hands of everyone there, the harsh, hard lifestyles of ranching, farming, harvesting, building, and constructing are made manifest. In those same creases, however, something is even more apparent. There is a hope for tomorrow, yes, but there is a rejoicing in today.

When you think about people and politics, you think of the hustle of Kansas City, Chicago, New York City, D.C., and wherever else civilization thrives. You get out here, out in the woods or the deserts or the prairies, and this is what it is all about. This is what America is – this is what we have always been. A people – one people – under the concepts of freedom and unity who take reality by the reins and brave countless challenges to flourish and strive for success. Mid-America and her heroes are overlooked, even though they are all of us. The ranchers, the farmers, the small businessmen and women, the families, the workers; they are the backbone of America. The fly-over states that are so easy to look down upon and ignore because of their lack of glamor and absence of shopping malls are what makes this nation what it is. The values of America – the traditions of this great nation – are rooted in the very states and people we tend to overlook the most. Hard work, kindness, humility, and unity is what Mid-America is all about.

Next time you scoff at the mention of a fly-over state or put yourself in higher regard than those who built this nation from the ground up, take a second to think about that waitress in the little restaurant in small-town Missouri, making a living for her daughter and rejoicing in the daily. Before you debate me about the how the hardworking, tradition-soaked south, the vibrant west, or the exciting east is so much better than the Midwest, I am not disagreeing. Each region and its people are unique in their own ways; however, as the heart of this nation beats in the Midwest, so does this nation stand and function because of the backbone that fills the center of this nation.

Mid-America is a breath of fresh air in a stale nation. Breathe it in. Exhale it out. And go forth and do great things. Appreciate the little things. Watch the sunset over And next time you want a taste of reality and what the backbone of our nation looks like, make your way into a flyover state. You will not regret it, I promise you.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

While parts of the U.S. are beginning to re-open after months in quarantine, the future of date nights at home is still bright — because, let's face it, wearing masks to a fancy restaurant with your boo in the coming months just doesn't sound fun.

So, if you're looking to have a little romantic fun indoors, we've got just the games for you. Click through the slideshow below for 11 couples games that'll help you two become closer than ever.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've always been interested in any product that can get me the Jennifer Lopez-esque natural glow. I'm Indian and have medium-toned skin, so getting darker was never really the goal. Rather, I've always looked for a product that would even out my skin tone and cellulite, basically making my legs look Photoshopped.

Now more than ever we're craving that healthy, tan glow most of us only get after spending a week poolside with margarita in hand. We may not be spending an SPF-soaked summer hitting on our local lifeguards. But when we're going on socially-distanced walks outside, taking viral-worthy selfies, or just want to test out the best self-tanners for when you do finally get to show off all the bikinis you binge-purchased through your quarantine boredom, these are the best to ways to glow up, no matter your shade of skin, whether you have uber-sensitive eczema-ridden skin, or just want J-Lo glow, smooth legs.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Quarantine Checkup Week 10: It's Officially Summer, Even In Quarantine

An Odyssey panel discussion about all things quarantine.

Thanks to coronavirus (COVID-19), most of the United States has gone into its own version of quarantine. While no one loves this new way of life we're adjusting to, it's the necessity that will eventually help us fling open our front doors and frolic freely once again!

Premature thinking? Maybe. But while we're in the midst of this quarantine time, we're chatting about the most terrifying, the funniest, and the weirdest thing that quarantine has forced us into recently.

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only did she launch her beauty marketing career at legendary Smashbox Cosmetics, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments