VIOLA - When you live in a town of 676 people your chances for having a piping hot pizza delivered to your home are slim to none.
Living in a suburb of Milwaukee years ago meant a wide variety of food and lots of it. Ethnic foods were my favorite. If I was craving an authentic Mexican dish, it was an easy drive to the east side where I had my pick of numerous restaurants. And pizza? A smorgasbord of choices, all only a phone call away. For years, I lived in pizza heaven.
I took it for granted. Now, I know better.
On one particularly below-freezing, ice-covered-road day I came home from work craving a pizza. It was a Friday and Dane would be coming over for dinner. Slip sliding into the house, my nose dripping, I searched my cupboards unsuccessfully for any of the necessary ingredients.
I knew there was a chain pizza restaurant in the nearest ‘big’ town of Viroqua (4,406 residents), but was I brave enough to challenge the winter elements again? Dane was—he said he could stop in on his way to my place to pick it up. So, I phoned in our order.
“Hi, I’d like to order a pizza for carry-out.”
"What would you like on it?"
"I'd like a thin crust with one half the Vegetarian Specialty and the other half pepperoni, onions and green peppers."
"Hold on a minute, please."
"Sorry, we can't split Specialty Pizzas in half."
"Okay, I'd like to order a pizza with one half mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives and the other half pepperoni, onions and green peppers."
"Okay, you can pick that up in 20 minutes. Thank you."
Feeling grateful, I switched into my pajamas, waited, and wasn't disappointed. Although not a pizza to brag about, it was round and had plenty of sauce.
While Dane claims to have lived on pizza for 20 years, he is not a pizza connoisseur. This may have to do with growing up in Readstown (population 417), where I’ll bet there wasn’t easy access to pizza delivery. He’s a dedicated Tombstone frozen pizza man. He doctors them up with extra tomatoes, onions, peppers, cheese, and even sausage (on his side, not mine!). I call his doctored up creations his ‘go-to’ dinner, because if I’m out of town or he’s at his home eating alone, there’s a 50 percent chance that’s what he’s having for dinner.
On rare occasions, when my pizza cravings are running high, we’ll head on over to Country Gardens in Soldier’s Grove (population 592). The gal smiles when I place the order: one half veggies, the other side cardiac-arrest (pepperonis, sausage, and onions).
When our pizza arrives and we both dig in, I’ll lean over, smile sweetly at Dane, and say, “You may as well mainline fat into your veins.” He smiles back, as he chews with relish.
I finish my side of the pizza a good 30 minutes before Dane. We’re both full and walk out happily, holding hands.
A favorite pizza episode was the time we were heading out on a road trip four hours later than we’d planned. Hungry and anxious to make up time, we stopped at a place in La Farge where, I told Dane excitedly, “They have vegetarian pizza!”
We both went in, picked out our own separate fast lunches, and met back in the car.
Dane glanced over at me as I bit into my hamburger, and said, “What? I thought you were getting a slice of veggie pizza?”
“I know. I’m bummed they didn’t have any today.”
It wasn’t until I’d finished eating that he pointed out the inconsistency in my decision.
Last winter, I was again suffering from a pizza craving and once again didn’t have the groceries I needed to make my own. I called Dane and asked him to bring over one of his Tombstones. Shocker: he didn’t have any in his freezer.
Not willing to give up easily, while I waited for Dane to come over I looked up the phone number for the new pizza joint in Viroqua.
“Hi, I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”
“Great! Where do you live?”
“In rural Viola, in a valley, but really I feel I’m closer to La Farge.”
“Ummm, maybe you could just give me your address.”
I gave the kind man my address, but to my horror he responded, “We don’t deliver there. We deliver in a 15-mile radius only.”
Trauma. Low-population pizza trauma.
The kind man was about to hang up when I said, too loudly, “How far do you go if you're driving out Highway 56 toward 82 to La Farge?”
“Sheldon’s Junk Yard.”
“Great! I’d like to order a pizza, half vegetarian...”
I hung up the phone, excited. We didhave pizza delivery—kind of.
When Dane pulled into my driveway, I hurried out and told him our pizza was being delivered to Sheldon’s on Highway 56. He looked at me sideways, but agreed it would work.
We pulled into Sheldon’s, kept the car running, and waited. Soon a car pulled up beside us. Dane and the pizza man rolled down their windows at the same time. The pizza was handed over to one side, the money to the other. The windows rolled back up and both cars pulled out. Slick.
Not a traditional pizza delivery, more of a pizza hand off. But it worked, and the pizza stayed hot until we got home.Sadly, that pizza business recently closed. My cupboard is now well stocked with pizza red sauce and a couple small cans of sliced black olives. I’ve even bought a few frozen crusts to keep in my freezer. Meanwhile, anyone want to start a rural pizza delivery company? Think of all the trauma you could prevent!