Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

Zagat’s Missed This Restaurant in Paris—Paris, MO

"The Arrival of the Clemens Family in Florida" at the Paris post office

We visited Paris, Mo., to see a recently restored wall mural in the town’s post office titled “The Arrival of the Clemens Family in Florida.” The mural, completed by Fred Green Carpenter in 1940, shows the Clemens family and its slaves entering Florida, Mo., where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) would be born in 1835. “I increased the population by one percent,” he later wrote. “It is more than many of the best men in history could have done for a town.”

Locals recommended that we have lunch at Jonesy’s Café, 216 N. Main St., in Paris By our arrival at 12:40, Jonesy’s was out of the spaghetti special and all nine booths were filled with happily chomping and chatting (and some smoking) customers. So we stood for a moment, admiring the walls covered with hundreds of old photos, fly swatters, yardsticks, clocks, fans, trays and advertising signs, both national (“Drink Pepsi-Cola: A Nickel Drink Worth a Dime”) and local (“Heinold Hog Markets, Monroe City, MO”).

Jonesy's Cafe

Our brown formica table in the front window looked out on the two large sidewalk American flags that flanked Jonesy’s. I ordered a banana malt ($2.75) and double bacon cheeseburger ($5.75), ripped off a “napkin”—really a paper towel—from the roll dispenser on our table, took a big bite of the juicy burger and cast an admiring eye at the cook, whose tee-shirt read, “You fry it, I’ll eat it.”

Loren Ghiglione

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