Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm Still Hungry

or what do I do now that Mrs. Laine has turned me away?

There are two other places in Loonville to obtain a bite to eat. One is Rosie's Coffee Shop across from the post office. But Rosie is open for breakfast and lunch only, five to one-thirty, Monday through Friday. Rosie takes off two days a week because, "Why should I work six or seven days when you galoots only work five?" So Rosie's is not an option on this dismal Saturday evening.

The other establishment that serves food is located at the intersection of the state highway and County Line Road, the other side of the street and you'd be out of town. This is Jerry's Soft-Surv. It is an ice cream/hamburger shop. There are no tables inside, but there are half dozen of them around the exterior of the building. There are parking spaces for twenty cars, and the space is needed after school and on weekends. There are no carhops. You get out and go to the window to place and pick up your order.

Mrs. Laine has rejected you at her establishment, but she will be happy enough to count the coin you drop here at Jerry's, for she owns this store, too. It is managed by her son, Jerry, and he is good at what he does. Which, quite simply, is making the best hamburgers you will ever sink you teeth into. Plus you can have it with a shake, a malt, a sundae, or a plain ice cream cone. You may have water, ice tea or coffee, but no "soft drinks" for this is not a "soda shoppe". Neither is Laine's, and if you want "pop" in this town, there is a machine at the gas station; or you can buy a six-pack at the general store.

Jerry is a hale-fellow-well met, not a physically impressive specimen of the human race, but his glowing smile and raucous banter more than makes up for any lack he may have in the beef-cake realm. Besides, he's flippin' burgers, not pumping iron.

After just one of his "100% beef" burgers (no indication as to where on the cow the cuts came from, nor what percentage of fat is contained therein) with golden french fries, or better yet, in my opinion, with the nonpareil deep-fried onion rings, polished off with a vanilla double malted, you will have forgotten all about the slight you suffered at Laine's.

Have a safe drive home!

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dining Out in Loonville

Decades before America was introduced to the "Soup Nazi," there was Mrs. Laine. The old 1897 brick building on the southwest corner of Main and Water was home to Laine's Cafeteria. It was a cafeteria only one day a week-- Sunday from 10:30 to 2:30. The restaurant was also open on Friday evening and Saturday evening, but service then was not cafeteria-style.

Mrs. Laine during the week is the drama and literature and Latin teacher at the local high school. We have no idea how old she is, for most people under fifty remember her as their teacher; and yes, plastic surgery was practiced in that day and time. Also, we know that she has a son who is forty-six years of age, about whom more later. Let's meet her in her establishment on this beautiful Friday evening.

There are no gaudy lights, no signs visible from the street. There is a small bronze plaque, about six inches by twelve, affixed to the brickwork beside the front door on which is inscribed


As we pass through the vestibule, noting that the lights are becoming dimmer as we walk along the hallway, we soon come to the podium at which sits Mrs. Laine on a high stool. On the podium itself is a leather-bound menu, and the one is more than enough, for the menu is exactly whatsoever has been created in the kitchen on this day. That is what you will have, no more, no less if indeed you have anything. Mrs. Laine inherited the recipe collection from her great grandmother who was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. The food is worth the trip, as numerous souls from as far away as four neighboring states would testify.

Mrs. Laine raises her perfectly-coiffed head. With neither smile nor frown, she peers imperiously toward you through her lorgnette. "Yes?" You tell her how many in your party, and she looks down at her desktop as you note the triple strand of high-quality pearls that encircle her neck. This is where the "rubber meets the road." Even though a quick glance around the dining area reveals several empty tables, and you know as well that Laine's does not take reservations, you may or may not be admitted for dinner! Some have driven eighty or a hundred miles only to be rejected at the door. No one knows what system or set of standards the hostess uses to make her determination, but her decision is final. A few unlucky and unwise souls have attempted the ploy of sliding a folded twenty-dollar bill across the desktop. It is unfolded, daintily held now between thumb and forefinger, and thrust back toward the offending soul. Here the proprietor speaks, "You may be admitted at a later date; but if you make this mistake again, you will be banned forever." Here she taps with her lorgnette on an eight x twelve poster on the wall to her left. You look at it. It is headed "Persona non grata." Below, though in your haste to retreat you do not read all the names, you note a few that are immediately outstanding.

    • Fidel Castro

    • Lyndon B. Johnson

    • Matt Welsh

    • John Frederick

    • Anna Lighthouse

and so on. We would probably all ban Castro. Mrs. Laine has voided Mr. Johnson's privileges because, though she was a huge JFK fan, her suspicions regarding LBJ's ascension to the presidency are quite strong. Matt Welsh is the governor of the state, an all-around nice guy, but he had the misfortune of running against and defeating Mrs. Laine's brother in a heated election for state representative many years ago. Roger Branigin succeeded Welsh as governor in 1965, and shortly thereafter, his name was added to the list. I don't know why. John Frederick is the local "mayor," the title being an honorific since there is no such official position. The community can only speculate as to Mrs. Laine's dislike of him, but it is well-known. Anna Lighthouse and this is really ancient history was a rival for Mr. Laine's attentions when the three of them were students at Indiana University. Though Mrs. Laine prevailed in the contest for the man's heart, she has never forgiven Anna. Just for existing, we suspect.

Oh, dear. And having ourselves passed muster, we have yet to be seated. The Empress hostess lifts her right index finger slightly. A tuxedoed lad immediately appears at her shoulder, and she says, "Four for seventeen." We are escorted at once to our candlelit table and the feast begins.

The tureen is set on the table, the waiter takes the ladle and...

Thus begins a dining experience to which I am unable to do justice, so you will complete the story by simply imagining the most delightfully unimaginable dining experience you have ever had.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amicable Divorce

One mile south of town, and half mile east, lived the Deutch family. Chester Deutch and Donna Devore had been high school sweethearts. Sort of inevitable in some ways, as the alphabetic propinquity of their surnames dictated that they were often seated one behind the other in class.

The development of their relationship may or may not have had anything to do with an incident that occured during their sophomore year. It was a hot, September afternoon and fifth period English class needed livening up, or so Donna thought. She therefore dropped just a pinch, a tiny pinch, of itching powder down Chet's shirt collar. The poor lad had a miserable afternoon. Donna and her best buddy, Jolene, had a near-uncontrollable snickering fit.

The lad eventually discovered the antagonist who had provided the misery, and he more or less demanded a sit-down over cokes at the local soda fountain. Which he got, and the rest led to the altar, as they were married seventeen days after the high school commencement program, 1952.

In May, 1953, Charles Donald Deutch was born to the loving young couple.

Time passes.

In the summer of 1959 the now not-so-happy couple decided that marriage was not for them. They opted for divorce, but they determined to keep things on an amicable basis "for the sake of the child." Their home place was eighty acres where they practiced part-time farming, as both had decent jobs at a not-far away GM factory. At the time of the filing, they started remodelling the two-car detached garage to make a small house suitable for human occupancy.

At the time I came to know this "family" Chester had lived in these small quarters for seven years and Donna had continued to live in the main house with the boy. Each member of the family had some benefits: she no longer had to put up with the foibles of a husband; he no longer had to listen to a nattering wife; and the boy had the benefit of two parents in spite of the divorce. Every Sunday Donna prepared and served a family dinner for the three of them in her home. Every Saturday Chester took the three of them to some nearby attraction or entertainment, or they all went fishing together. Worked for them.
So they said.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Toronado Comes to Loonville

Wilbur was the local auctioneer and real estate agent. One might say he had his finger on the pulse of the community. Well, except that he was using his fingers to count the money that flowed into his coffers. In short, he engaged in many enterprises.

Wilbur, known by all as "WT" always wore a white felt Stetson, always, winter and summer, spring and fall. Notwithstanding that he might be described as "portly" he dressed meticulously, was never wrinkled or spotted, and the wide ties he chose were first-cousin to the ascot.

In 1966, Oldsmobile Division of General Motors introduced a huge, heavy but sporty vehicle called "Toronado". This 5000 pound behemoth was powered by a 425 ci quadrijet carbed V-8. It was the first American-built front-wheel drive automobile produced since the demise of the Cord in 1937. WT was one of the first proud owners of a Toronado.

One sultry evening, humidity-laden air hanging heavily over the village as WT and I were standing at the curb following a Lions' meeting, I remarked that that was a beautiful wheel he was tooling around in these days. As he lovingly caressed a front fender, he went into a rhapsody of superlatives, praising his machine to the heavens. "Oh, man!" he said, "Get in; you gotta feel it." I got into the passenger seat, not really expecting to get the ride of my life. But I did. We had a seldom-used airport a mile west of town, fully equipped with a thousand-yard concrete runway. We were there in a minute and I was already semi-terrified. WT wheeled onto the runway and ripped off about a quarter mile, hit the brakes and spun a 180, hitting the accelerator again, we were seven seconds later in dead decelerating mode as he stood on the brake pedal to avoid flying through the fence onto the highway. Back down the runway at about 40, he spun the wheel to the left and shot onto the access apron. As he stopped he enthused, "Oh, man. How d'ya like that military turn?" Not so much, but I didn't say so.

© 2010 David W. Lacy