Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alice's Restaurant...And More


Alice's Restaurant


He loved Woodstock ~ Snoopy's funny feathered friend, not the rock festival ~ and he had an affinity for Arlo Guthrie's 18-minute & 34-second paen in favor of Thanksgiving & rant against the draft.

He worked as a G-Man for the FBI before I was born. Mom made him hang up his holster after a couple of years on the job in DC and Newark, NJ, because, she said "that gun of his scared me."

He was a gentle spirit, who loved nothing more than to take off his shirt, pull out an ice-cold beer (Schlitz was his brand in the early days, Natural Lite in later years, for some reason...probably all boiled down to the cost) & mow the lawn in the blistering Texas sun. He had to pay for that habit the hard way as he got older, when a dermatologist diagnosed melanoma, and he had a huge hunk of flesh carved out of his back.

He called himself "a compulsive cookie eater."

My Dad once drove a tanker truck for Texaco to earn enough money to fulfill his dreams at the University of Texas. He was a "Subway Soldier" on the island of Manhattan during WWII, charged ~ along with his buddies ~ with protecting the Big Apple from Nazi attack. After his NYC stint, he served out the remainder of his tour with the Eskimos, up on Baffin Island, up near the Arctic Circle. After trying his hand in Government Work, he traveled the US & the world in a series of jobs; he met presidents, prime ministers & even a couple of kings & a queen, I'm told.

But his favorite job came later life, when he became a grandpa.

My folks turned over a new chapter in their lives 22 years ago, & Dad relished his new role. He exposed the girls to gardening; he introduced them to 2 invisible mice, named Jerry & Midge, who lived in what my eldest termed the "glove department" of his car & baked the most delicious chocolate chip cookies. He took them to the Kennedy Center, DC's preeminent stage for the performing arts. And he opened their ears to the world of music.

Specifically? Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," as the epic is formally known.

No, he didn't play them selections from the 45, or the LP, cassette or even CD. He set up a cafe, of sorts, in my parents' cramped DC rowhouse, which he christened, "Alice's Restaurant."

The kids took turns playing "Alice." Alice, of course, owned the restaurant. The cafe featured 2 staples: food for thought, & checkers.

My Mom bought plastic Sesame Street plates & cups. The chicas scribbled out new menus, every time they visited. The kitchen area was under the stairs, near my grandmother's doll cradle & the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary. The grandkids dished out the "food," while Grandpa served up some mean games of checkers.

Well, the kids grew up. Jerry & Midge turned out to be residents not of the "glove department," but of Grandpa's vivid imagination. When my folks sold the Capitol Hill house, we watered the garden one last time. But Alice, & memories of the hours spent with Grandpa in that cramped rowhouse living room, will always linger.

Arlo, you're right: You can get anything you want...at Alice's Restaurant.

Grandpa y Una

24 comments:

Tammy Howard said...

Documented by eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was...

What happy memories!

The Blonde Duck said...

Wonderful story and picture! How lovely!

Amy said...

That's a happy start to the day. (=

Tiffany said...

Excellent. What a great dad and grandpa.

I was reading the featured blogger when you commented on my post. I was just about to pop over to roll call to see who was there. We must have similar computer habits :-)

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Poignant story, Scribe. Thanks for scribbling it for us!

The Main Ladybug said...

I am SO loving these stories that I am finding via our SITS Girl's blog roll.

Your tribute to your Grandpa is magnificent. What a lucky girl you are/were to have such wonderful childhood memories.

As a Nana to eight, I assure you that being a grandparent is truly AS SPECIAL as everyone tells you - it's our special reward for all the hard work of being a parent!

Susie said...

What a wonderful way to recap the beautiful contribution that grandparents make in our lives:-)

Jenn@ You know... that Blog? said...

What a wonderful tribute to your dad! Really lovely :)

Vodka Mom said...

psst. I gave you a shout out today. THANKS for the gift card!!! I can't tell you how much it meant to me.


xoxox

Vodka Mom said...

Oh, and fabulous story.

June Freaking Cleaver said...

Great story! It's cool to see how parents change when they become grandparents.

I think we should have grandchildren first, so we'd be more mellow when the kids arrive!

carma said...

What an awesome granddad. My father used to talk to us about the mystique of "Alice's Restaurant" which is one of his all time favorites..

Marrdy said...

Oh my gosh! You brought tears to my eyes. Now I miss my grandpanad my Dad! What a great story! Now write a book!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Great story! I love the details. We retain so many details from from childhood, but can barely remember things from three days ago...

Alicia said...

oh my gosh...that was so sweet!! he sounds like such a wonderful man! and that picture is priceless...

Columbia Lily said...

very cool.

Mrs4444 said...

Glad you (and your kids) have been so blessed to know Grandpa.

P.S. Linking to you in my Friday Fragments post tomorrow! :)

Heather of the EO said...

That was just perfect. I love the photo at the end too.

And Alice's restaurant? That's just the sweetest thing!

The Redhead Riter said...

Stopping by from SITS to give a little blog ♥

What a beautiful pic! PRICELESS!

Summer said...

Grandpas have such an amazing job....I miss mine so much, but I am blessed to watch my kids with theirs.

LadyStyx said...

What a wonderful share!

dkzody said...

I hope my granddaughter will have such wonderful memories. I'm beginning to feel that this is what this time in life is all about.

Michelloui said...

I really enjoyed this story. Stopped by from SITS and I will stop by again. This is a really enjoyable blog--love the graphics and the writing!

Have a good weekend!!

Miss Jo said...

What a lovely memory of a great grandpa with a silly bone, sense of adventure and a big crush on las dos ellas !

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