Don’t it always seem to go…

 â€¦that you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone.


I was responding to a blog this morning when I triggered a really pleasant memory.  In my early 20’s I started frequenting a restaurant called Cal’s.  It was the ultimate greasy spoon diner.  It started out as a Saturday morning ritual with my room mate at the time.  Shortly after he got married and moved away, I met Craig.  That is where the tradition really kicked into high gear.  At times there would be 6-8 guys that would show up on any given Saturday morning.


The restaurant was dark and smoky on the inside.  People smoked at Cal’s long after California’s ban on smoking in public places.  It had this nasty blue carpet that was encrusted with the remnants of meals long past.  Depending on how many guys showed up, we would either site at the table by the back wall or at the big round table in the back room. 


Cal’s focus was on quantity not quality.  The portions were huge.  I probably never said more than 5 words to Cal the entire time I frequented the restaurant.  He was always cooking in the back.  His wife Patty and their daughter Cindy were always our waitresses.  If the restaurant was busy, and we did not have coffee, they would literally yell at us to get off our butts and get our own coffee. 


We were affectionately referred to as “the boys.”  We could always count on being sassed by the waitresses.  We grossly over-tipped, so we were quite popular.


Much of who I am today was molded in that dive.  We spoke of politics, religion, girls, work; you name it we probably chewed on it.  Breakfast usually lasted at least 2 hours, sometimes more.  Cal’s was the highlight of my week.  It fed my soul more than church.  It is by far the best community I have ever belonged to.


Cal retired and moved back to Michigan.  His son took over the restaurant and drilled it right into the ground.  It went out of business in a matter of months.  I got married and moved away.


I love my life now.  I have a loving family, a good job, and decent friends, but I really long for those days when a tiny slice of paradise was served with a side of hash browns.

By Ben Posted in Life

2 comments on “Don’t it always seem to go…

  1. I still see Cindy every once in awhile – run into her at Safeway and stuff.

    Patty died of a drug o-d, sometime in the nineties. Sad situation. What-was-once-Cals is occupied by a State Farm agency, I believe.

    I came in on the tail-end of The Boys’ experience, but Judi went there until the place closed down as well.

    Some things are just not as good without a side of hash browns.


  2. So true about Cal’s–and I also miss that place and those people. I tried to keep something similar going at Mollie’s later, but it never got rolling. (I still love Mollie’s, which is like Cal’s excpet cleaner and more professional which doesn’t mean exceptionally so.)

    Some of those Cal’s conversations were among the best I ever enjoyed, especially with Ben, Vic, and Mark Johnson. I learned new modes of sarcasm and irony and am eternally grateful.

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