Sunday, August 03, 2008

An Era Ends

Something took place here last night -in the village, that is -that depending on what your perspective is, could be very happy for some and a bit depressing for others.

Yesterday was the last day that one of our favorite little bar-restaurants was in business!

Yep, the little place at the top of the hill, along the main highway here, shut down for good.

Jim and Charmaine's Restaurant is now history as the owners (Jim and Charmaine) have decided to retire.

Mandy helped out on their final night and since we are short a vehicle here now because of the transmission going out two weeks ago in my van and my son-in-law hasn't yet got the parts he needs to get the Jeep Cherokee I bought to replace the van purchased as yet, I took Mandy up there and dropped her off so I could have the car to use then for the evening.

When I took her to work, I decided rather than to come back home and try to fix a meal just for Kurtis and myself, that I would treat myself to supper at the restaurant. So, Kurtis and I took up a spot at the large table just outside the kitchen and near the bar. Not that I wanted to be close to the bar then because I wasn't going to indulge in any alcoholic refreshments since I had the little guy with me, but rather this table is the one that frequently is used by family of Jim and Charmaine too.

When we got there, there was a young lady (Betsy) and her two little boys (Jacob and Isaac) seated there. Betsy is a cousin of Charmaine's who I've known since they brought her home from the hospital and also, who I worked with several years back about the time she finished high school I'd seen her older son once, maybe twice before but this was the first I'd ever seen her little guy and wow, what cuties they both are too. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take my camera with me so didn't get any shots of how cute these two little fellows are.

While sitting there, Charmaine's younger sister (Annie) and their Mom, Helen Ann, came in and sat with us at this table too. Now, I go way back with this family you see. Helen Ann's parents lived next door to me when I was growing up, then they sold the house to one of their 11 daughters (Carol) and Carol's older daughter, Lou Ann, was at one time married to my ex-brother-in-law too. Confused? Don't worry about it, lots of people are! LOL But when I was in high school, I used to babysit quite frequently for Helen Ann and her late husband , "Uncle" Joe Benny! Just keep that in mind, okay? Oh, and my kids and I also always refer to Helen Ann and her late husband, as "Aunt Helen Ann" and "Uncle Joe Benny." (Makes life easier that way so my kids and I know who we are referring to in conversations, you see -because there are three people we know named Helen and this is how we differentiate between them, you see. Plus, my kids also refer to all of Aunt Helen Ann's siblings by calling them "Aunt" or "Uncle" too.)

Okay, back to my story now.

The next thing I knew, someone else came in and was sitting at our table too -Aunt Helen's younger son, Joe and his wife, Pam. I hadn't seen them in a couple of years -not since Uncle Joe Benny's funeral -so it was good to see them again too!

Kurtis and I had a very nice meal - battered cod with macaroni and cheese for me and a dish of macaroni and cheese for Kurtis -probably his most favorite meal, ya know! After we ate, Kurtis and I drove into Philipsburg then to pick up my son, Clate, as he and his co-driver were coming home from their week's run. Clate used to drive into Philipsburg and park his vehicle there while he was on the road but with his "new" canary yellow 1971 Chevy pick-up truck that he got last week from his dad and drove it back here then from Nevada, he isn't too keen on parking the truck there for a week at a time and possibly inviting someone to vandalize it or worse, to flat out even steal the truck. His Dad would probably show up on his door step if anything like that happened to this pickup truck!

So after dropping Clate off at his house, Kurtis and I got home in time for me to give him his nightly snack -pudding with his medications blended into it, then his bottle and by 9 p.m., the little guy was crashed -down for the count and sound asleep! Ah, peace -how sweet it is ya know!

Around midnight, I went up to Jim and Charmaine's to enjoy the final hours of their operating this place and had a fun time in the process too, seeing lots of other folks from the area who, like my kids and I, have been frequent customers of theirs over the past 20 years since they first opened the place up for business. This time, I remembered to take my camera and so I'm going to post some pictures here that I took of some of the folks also celebrating Jim and Charmaine's retirement but also, shedding a few tears too as the time came when they were officially closed.

Keep in mind, these are not necessarily the finest pictures you'll ever see here -just a little way to give an idea of us helping to celebrate the last night of this place.

This is Annie, Charmaine's "baby" sister. Annie and I worked together 20 years ago at the truckstop where I had waitressed for seven years. We also over the years have spent lots of time crying together, over our beers, about people we were both very close to during our lives and no longer with us too.
Here's Ricky, son of neighbors up the road from me. I attended school with Ricky's Dad -his mom is a few years younger than me but I've known them -and Ricky -forever, it seems. The couple seated with Ricky is his Mom's brother, Eddie and his wife, Ginger. (A little side note here -Eddie was one of the star athletes here -a very talented baseball player -and if memory serves me correctly, I think he had a shot at the minor league team in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization -something along those lines, anyway!)
The lady in red is Lois -office manager for our State Senator in Harrisburg -and a very nice lady and good friend. With her is Shirley, affectionately known within my family as "Grandma Squirrel". Shirley has worked for Jim and Charmaine since they first opened the doors as bartender first, then just waitressing. Her ex-husband is a cousin of Charmaine's and the young lady with the two little boys I mentioned who were there when Kurtis and I stopped for supper (Betsy) is Shirley's daughter. Shirley's a good friend to all my family and also has a terrific sense of humor too -something that always comes in handy when working in the food service industry!
Here's Shirley again but with her oldest daughter, Melanie. Mel also worked for Jim and Charmaine for a while when she was in high school and while attending college to become a registered nurse too. She's the same age as my son, Clate.
Here's Shirley, again, and the young man in the middle (facing me) is Kevin -who is a brother of Ricky, shown above. Kevin has been one of my son's best friends since they were in kindergarten and today, he lives just up the street from me having bought the house that used to belong to his great-aunt and uncle (Dorothy and Speed). Kevin's nickname around town is "Cupcake" and I'm not sure exactly how he came to be known with that handle, but that's what some of us still call him -and my son also has the nickname of "Tapwater" to many of the same folks who call Kev "cupcake." He's a great young man, really nice guy and someone who would do whatever he can to help a friend or neighbor whenever he can too! He's helped my older daughter move on several occasions, not an easy job either, I might add. Finding a young man around here who is a harder worker than Kevin, along with his oldest brother, Ricky, is pretty doggone hard to do too! Because of his friendship with my son, he's like a second son to me too and when Clate was in the Army, stationed in Germany, he was wondering too if by the time he got discharged and back home that I might have turned over the keys to the house here to Kevin since he is like a second son to me.
This is Charmaine's older sister, Jeanne, who has been the bartender (as well as waitress at times) for the place for the past several years. Last night though, she wasn't working but was one of those there helping to celebrate the past 20 years that Jim and Charmaine have provided a nice place for folks to go for good food, a good time and another of the good people who's been part of my life for oh, about a half a century now!
Here's two of the regular patrons (can't remember which is which of the first two shown here) but the third one from the left is Jim and then, his wife, Charmaine -the owners -showing off a bit for the camera!
This is Mandy, busy behind the bar, trying to fill everyone's drink orders, keeping track of payment and such. She worked there as waitress and bartender too before she and Bill got married and up until Maya was born. I'm wondering too who is going to miss not being able to go up to Jim and Charmaine's more now -Mandy, me or maybe Maya too because the place, and especially due to the relationship we've had over the years with Jim, Charmaine, Jeanne and Annie, Maya knows all four of them quite well. They've often been the first to see some of Maya's antics, hear some of her first words as well now as Kurtis' too! The first time Kurtis ever said "See ya" was to Jim just about two or three weeks ago!
This is Jim -probably pontificating to someone near him there -something he generally does quite well too! Or perhaps he's just thinking about how nice it will be not being saddled with the responsibility of running a restaurant and bar anymore too!
And finally, here's the happy couple, Jim and Charmaine, reveling in their retirement!

I'm going to miss not having a nice place to go enjoy a meal, sometimes a few brews, the cameraderie that always existed at this place especially.

But, as the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end" and though the restaurant and bar will no longer be, Jim and Charmaine will still be here, living in town, around and about and the fun-loving couple they've always been!

Yes, some tears were shed as folks said their goodbyes to them, to the establishment but we can all take away too some great memories of our time spent there, with some really great friends and good neighbors alike!

Enjoy your time now, Jim and Charmaine. Meanwhile, one of the last things being discussed there last night was how we will have to now make plans to have a "Block Party" just so many of us can get together again to share some food and libation and in general, continue with the pattern of having a good time in one another's company!

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