Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top 5 Signs You Grew Up in Rolla, Mo

Growing up in Rolla, Mo. was a blast.

There are certain aspects of "the middle of everywhere" that only former residents will recognize. It's sort of the secret language that only Rolla's teenage residents speak. Well, at least they did in my day. Here are the top 5 signs that you indeed grew up in Rolla (pronounced 'rah lah' for the uninitiated).

You have to try Pryor's beef pizza. It is by far my favorite pizza on the planet.

5. Cruisin': One of the rites of passage in Rolla is turning 16 and obtaining your driver's license. Once you get said license, you have to make a 'cruisin' loop.' While I was never much of a cruiser, the loop is known by every teenage driver. You literally just drive a loop, which includes Kingshighway and Pine Street and looks more like a cursive "L" on a map. Along the way, you see friends and honk and wave. Yep, it's as lame as it sounds. Still, you have to do it at least once.

4. Field parties: Another rite of passage in Rolla is the field party. I think this is pretty standard in small towns across the Midwest. In my time, we'd find a creek, park some cars, cue the music and make a bonfire. Good times. I still remember one such party when the music died. No problem. A classmate saved the day with a Pontiac LeMans that was packing four 8-inch sub-woofers in the trunk.

3. Halloween rituals: At some point in your high school career, you and a group of friends will make a pilgrimage to two spooky places in the Rolla area -- Cry Baby Holler and Goatman's Grave. Typically, only a couple people in each clique would know the exact location of these spots. They'd also claim to know the creepy story behind the places. You'd get all freaked out on the drive. Most occasions were uneventful. However, every once in a while another group of teens would be hiding in the woods and give you a proper scare. By the way, does anyone know if the "wizard tree" still exists?

2. Pizza duel: Any self-respecting resident knows there are only two pizza places in Rolla -- Pryor's and Alex's. Most folks favor one over the other. Growing up, I had the best of both worlds. My friends loved Alex's, while my family was hooked on Pryor's. For the record, my stomach belongs to Pryor's. Their beef pizza is the best. Yet, if you ask Wes and Kenan, they'll recommend the shrimp and Canadian bacon at Alex's.

1. Maid-Rite: In the summer, after a baseball or softball game, you had to go to Maid-Rite. It's a basic rule of living in Rolla. At Maid-Rite, you will order one of their infamous Cheese-Rites. It's sort of a sloppy joe without the sauce. The ground beef is not made into a patty. It's loose. After tossing a couple of those grease bombs down, you should order a concrete. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Those are my top 5 Rolla experiences. Did I miss any? For the record, I'll pen another blog on my top 5 Rolla restaurants. Lucky House will definitely make the cut.


  1. you would have to go back a ways, before the forum Plaza, but buying Scout uniforms in the old JC Penney on Pine Street. The basement of the JCPenney was an old fallout shelter, and when you go down to get your Scout uniforms you and see all of the signs along the stairway.

    the other would have to be the two movie theaters. The Ritz, and the Uptown. the Uptown played all of the family oriented movies, while the rats played all of the stuff for the adults.

    1. Used to shop there with my mom!! That store was awesome!!

    2. I never experienced the old JC Penney. I do remember those theaters. Though, they were on the decline when I was growing up. The Forum Cinema was my childhood theater. Someone would always graffiti that concrete dam a few times a year by the Forum's parking lot. The city would always come along and cover it up.

  2. The old skating rink behind Maid-Rite's and playing cat and mouse with our cars!! Also the "drag racing" on Pine and Rolla Streets!!