5 Top Places to Visit in Scumble River, Illinois
by Denise Swanson
It was hard of choose the first stop on out little tour, but since I spend so much time there, I picked the Scumble River Police Department. Between being the PD’s psych consultant and engaged to the handsome police chief, Wally Boyd, I spend a bit of my life in this place. It’s housed in a two-story red-brick building bisected by a massive double-deep three-door garage. The police department occupies half the main floor, with a single jail cell in the basement. The city hall, where my Machiavellian uncle Dante Leofanti rules as mayor, is on the other side of the building, along with the town library, which is on the second floor of that half.
And speaking of the library, Scumble River Library is normally presided over by Judy Martin, but she’s been on sabbatical and Yvonne Osborn has been in charge. While it’s still the same two rooms, jam-packed with books and magazines, the atmosphere is different with Yvonne at the helm. Things are much more regimented. The wooden chairs and study carols are lined up at precise angles and the shelves have been straightened to within an inch of their lives. Not to mention, the small corner office, that is now ready for a military inspection.
The newest business in town is my favorite. Tales and Treats is a combination bookstore and café. It’s owned by Risé Vaughn and her husband Orlando Erwin. I love the clever design. The main room contains the register, gift items associated with reading and writing, and a massive glass-fronted oak cupboard containing rare and first editions.
Radiating from the central hub is the café where Orlando does his baking magic, and four areas decorated according to the genre they held—mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasy /horror, and literature. I spend most of my time in the first two. The mystery space has elegant wood paneling and cushiony armchairs that invite customers to relax as they make their choices. A fireplace with a jumbo magnifying glass hangs over the mantel, and handcuffs, crime scene tape, and a variety of toy weapons are arranged on top of cherry occasional tables.
The romance nook is furnished with a pink velvet chaise lounge and a white wrought iron daybed stacked with frilly pillows. Oversized champagne glasses and high heel shoes are placed on gilt tables, and a lace peignoir hangs from a brass hook on the wall. Probably the most popular place in town square is the Feed Bag. Even though it was last redecorated in nineteen-eighty-four, it’s the only real restaurant in Scumble River. The dated mauve paint and brass railings don’t seem to matter too much to the locals, but over twenty years of hard wear has taken their toll with the interior. Most of the vinyl seats have tears that have been repaired with duct tape, and the walls are pocked with dabs of color that didn’t quite match the original paint. The ferns died more than a decade ago, and the plastic plants that replaced them are faded and dusty. Still, the owner, Tomi Johnson’s good cooking keeps the place humming.
No visit to Scumble River would be complete without a stop at the bowling alley. The owner is my ex-boyfriend, Simon Reid, but his mother Bunny runs the place. There aren’t two more different people than Simon and Bunny, and luckily for business, Bunny’s the fun one. Bunny Lanes is housed in a brick building close to fifty years old. When Simon bought it he changed the interior from nineteen-sixties brown and orange to a sleek palette of blues with touches of silver. He expanded the bar area and enclosed it, adding etched glass doors, a small stage, and dance floor. The grill also received a face-lift. The counter tops are now blue faux marble and stools are upholstered in a denim fabric with silver studs.
I do have a few bad memories of this place. There was the bachelorette/bachelor party for my California cousin that got out of control and the murder when Bunny decided to host a combination speed dating and cat show, but all in all, it’s probably the most entertaining stop on the tour.
If you’re lucky, you won’t have to see Reid’s Funeral Home. Although its owner Simon Reid is a hunk, most people would rather skip this place unless they have no other choice. And just because Simon and I dated and I’ve helped solve a lot of murder cases, I promise not to try and make this your last stop.
Denise Swanson is the New York Times bestselling author of the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery series. Her latest, MURDER OF A STACKED LIBRARIAN, #16 in the series, hits the shelves on September 3, 2013. Her books have made the New York Times Bestseller List, Barnes & Noble best-seller lists, and the Independent Booksellers lists. All of Denise’s mysteries are available in print, digital, large-print, and audible editions. For more information visit Denise at: www.DeniseSwanson.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor