Reinhardt Family History

Memories of Eggs and Chickens

Stories from Neil Reinhardt

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of Eggs & Chickens

Observations at Joan's Kitchen

Joan's Kitchen is a small restaurant that caters to a clientele that wants a good cup of coffee, before reporting for work at jobs that keep the wheels of commerce turning. After a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, they are ready to report, bright-eyed, to meet the challenges of the day. There ate also the retired and semi-retired who can't stand sitting around the house all day. Even bachelors who - if forced to make their own meals - could not boil water without burning it!

The interior is long and narrow - a row of booths on one side and a counter with stools on the other. Behind the counter is a grill and a deep fryer. Along the back, stainless steel cabinets that hold the coffee maker and toaster. The drawers contain things necessary in the operation of a restaurant. To the rear are the necessary rooms and keys, then the kitchen with a stove and refrigerator on one side, and a sink and freezer.

Joan's is located on the east side of Main Street. If you sit at the counter and look out the window to the west, you see the city-county building at the end of the shortest street, Court Street, 1 block long.

Jolly buxom Joan is the proprietor and cook, proof that she enjoys her own cooking. Marge, the waitress, is kept slim by hurrying to refill coffee cups and bringing the orders - all the time keeping up a steady conversation with the diners. Janette comes in on Thursdays to give Marge a day to relax. If I happen to stop Thursday mornings, I get all the news of my friends in the Eden area.

The restaurant is open at 6:00 am, to feed the many that stop for breakfast on their way to work. An order of coffee, 2 eggs, toast and bacon, may contain 4 yolks. I wondered about that until I saw the egg crate labeled Jumbo eggs.

There are always three daily newspapers for the customers to read as they savor their coffee along with the funnies and crossword puzzles. One fellow always does the crosswords in ink, he's so sure he's right.

Sometime in the morning the door would open, and George would walk in with his white cane. He walked straight ahead until Marge would say 'Right there, George." Then he gingerly felt his way into an empty booth. He ordered the same thing every day: coffee, toast, 2 scrambled eggs, sausages, and American fries. This was placed before him in the same position every day. He was very careful not to spill anything.

Sometimes I would sit with him to visit and talk of old times. As his eyesight gradually deteriorated, he was forced to eat with his fingers., He had an exact order of eating. He first found the little packet of jam that comes with the toast. After opening it, he found his knife, scooped the jam out, and ate it. Then he ate the toast, washing it down with coffee. He also ordered a sandwich to take with him, as he only ventured out once a day. So he confined his eating to the sandwich and snacks he kept in his room. In paying, he held out some money and Marge took what was needed.

Of the many who stopped at Joan's, one was Harold, the retired blacksmith. He was not the kind of blacksmith you read about in prose and poetry. He was only about 5 ft 6 in. tall, and weighed about 170 pounds. He has a hearing loss due to 50 years of ear-splitting noise, hammering on glowing iron he took from the forge and beat into shape. When Ray and Frances, his hunting and fishing buddies arrived, the place rang with laughter as they recalled their hunting and fishing stories, and tried to bother Marge with their banter.

Joe, another regular who had never married, lived a few blocks away. He had inherited a house and moved to town after selling his farm. He always moaned about selling his farm too cheap, when the price of real estate went sky high. He continually moaned about the money he would have had, if he had waited until land values rose. It seemed he was going to set the world afire, but he never got a fire going. He would pick up money left as a tip, and put it in his pocket.

It sometimes happened that 3 Georges were there at the same time. George with the white cane; George with the three day growth of whiskers; (when he came to the restaurant, he walked a bicycle down the sidewalk and parked it in front of the building. I had never seen him ride, and I wondered if he needed the bicycle for support, or if he was hanging on to it, to keep from falling on the sidewalk.); the third George was always grouchy. It bothered him if anyone had a good laugh.

Then there was Clarence, the retired brick layer, who got very excited when I announced that the bright pickup truck parked beside my white car had a white streak of paint along the side (He had just washed and waxed his truck). Russ just stopped for coffee and to read the papers. Bill never drank coffee because of stomach trouble. He would have a glass of milk and a bowl of oatmeal. When I hadn't seen him for sometime, I was told he had passed away.

95-year-old Elsie and her son Jim would sometimes stop in. They lived in the tavern they operated before selling. Before retiring, she ran the kitchen in the tavern and always made the best corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day.

Judge Gene would stop for a cup of tea, on his way to preside over the court where he would judge with the wisdom of Solomon the many that would appear before him that day. Several came in for coffee and donuts after attending Mass. Even Father Pat from over on 2nd street would stop once in a while. I don't know if it was for the good coffee, or if he was checking up on some of his parishioners he hadn't seen at Mass lately.

I never get down to Joan's kitchen anymore in the afternoon, so I spend the time watching the kids go home from Waters School, or baking cookies for my grandchildren.