05 September 2007

meet me for coffee at............

Change: it happens, get over it. Change isn't always for the best, but because it generally happens slowly we hardly recognize it and what the new norm is - whatever it is - seems not so bad. And then we think back. Those were the days! And in some places, they still are.

Diners, cafes', hometown restaurants, mom & pop shops - whatever you want to call them and wherever they are across Indiana seem to be disappearing in increasing numbers. And with their fading also is removed a sense of the community that they once provided. A new sense of community may be found in other establishments or venues, but make no mistake-it just isn't the same. So what have we lost and are continuing to lose? Maybe more importantly, should we do something about it?

I am the proud son of a diner family-a truckstop more specifically. My grandparents traded the farm for a café in 1950. A few years later the state came through and demolished the place for road expansion forcing my grandparents to relocate the business. In 1996 my dad & mom closed the doors. It sold, then closed, then sold again and stayed closed. Fond memories, hard work and good neighbors-that's what it was. Our community lost something more than a piece of history the day we walked away. A place to gather, be seen, talk and stay informed, lend support, laugh and sometimes cry together. We lost "community".

There are a handful of locations around our great state where a few mom & pops heroically beat the odds of fast food and chains. Or, maybe the chains just haven't reached them yet. Whatever the case-these places should be celebrated as one of the most important vestiges of Hoosierdom. They are everything that is still good of our culture and a link to our past that made us who we are today. And in their absence may show us what we are becoming.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post. Reminded me of a place my grandparents used to take me as a kid when we would visit them in Greencastle. It was called the Fairway Restaurant, and it was the site of my introduction to cherry milkshakes and that most delightful of Hoosier pastry _ the sugar cream pie.

You might be interested to know that there are others who share your nostalgia...Check out this site created by a Walkerton artist who has, in my opinion, really managed to capture the essence of diners in Northern Indiana

www.fourteenplacestoeat.com