Finding Our Place

Daniel and I stopped at Tom and Jerry’s in Rockford after church.  We haven’t been there in awhile.  We have a Tom and Jerry’s in Belvidere now, so I don’t have to drive fifteen miles to Rockford for my Vienna Beef hot dog fix.  Also, I’m on Weight Watchers, so I shouldn’t really be getting a Vienna Beef hot dog fix in any case.  We parked among the puddles and made a run for the entrance.  Daniel stopped at the door though, leaving me standing outside in the rain.

“They’ve taken away all the old stuff!” he cried.  Tom and Jerry’s previous décor could be described as “Early American Crap”.  It’s the same as you see at Applebee’s or Friday’s; they had old farm signs nailed to the walls, antique tools stacked around the booths and other flair.  However, it was all gone.  The restaurant had been opened up.  Clear wood molding edged the walls freshly painted an innocuous beige.  Daniel sulked as he ate his hot dog.  I asked him what the problem was.

“I wanted to take Andrew here,” he said.  Andrew is the name of our grandson.  Daniel is nine years old, but he likes to plan ahead.  I pointed out Tom and Jerry’s has been around awhile.  We’d been eating there for at least five years; it might last awhile longer.

“But it’s different,” Daniel said.  “He won’t see the old tools.”  That is unfortunate.  I was lucky enough to eat at The Pizza Cottage a couple of times with Meka and Daniel before it and the rest of downtown Roselle was bulldozed.  However, Daniel never experienced eating standing up at the tall counter at The Stop or playing two songs for a quarter on the jukebox at Hippo’s.  Even Lottaburger, the legendary joint of my childhood was razed to make way for (gasp!) another Walgreen’s.  But so goes the way of all things.  Otherwise there would be no need for nostalgia.

“I’m sure you and Andrew will find your own place,” I said.  “After all, I didn’t think Tom and Jerry’s was all that special until I started going here with you.”  Daniel laughed, maybe because I was threatening to tickle him from under the table.  We ate and talked and watched the rain come down.  Daniel had brought a couple of cars and we drove them off the table “to their doom”.  We took off after filling our cups for the third or fourth time.

“Dad,” Daniel said when we got in the car, “when me and Andrew find our new place, you can come along too.”

I wouldn’t miss it for the world.


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