For decades, *the* place to be in my hometown sat at the corner of Third and Oak Streets. We’re talking wooden booths carved with names from my dad’s crew, vanilla milkshakes with bits of bean still visible served up in the metal shaker, and the best–I mean *the best*–cheeseburgers I’ve ever had in my life.
The entrance was angled on the corner so that when you walked in, you were greeted by the sight of two things nearly simultaneously. To the left was a long diner counter, red bar stools in front of it and behind it, a waitress wearing a pink dress covered by a white apron and a little nurses’-type hat. This was in the early 1990s, by the way, but I’m guessing it wasn’t too different when my dad hung out there in the 60s.
To the right was heaven, at least to a chocoholic, because this establishment also made candy and to-die-for chocolate year-round.
Deno, the owner, was one mean candy machine.
My mom used to buy his Easter eggs for my brother (coconut) and me (peanut butter) every year. If you’re envisioning those tiny, poor excuses for candy made by Reese’s or Cadbury’s, think again. These babies were the size of my hand–my adult hand, not my five-year-old one. And the best part was that the top was hand-decorated with flowers and swirls and *sigh* my name.
So, every Easter morning after the excitement had died down from our indoor egg hunt (plastic, bright, filled with coins, and marked with our names), it was time for that first bite into the M of Michelle (good thing the eggs were so darn big!). I’d curl up with the dog, fill my mouth with tooth-achingly sweet peanut butter goodness, and dream about being that proverbial kid in the candy store.
Not surprisingly, Easter was always accompanied by an overwhelming urge to watch Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The building of the old diner is still there, but you’d never recognize it. Last I heard, Deno was still making candy and selling it out of another locally famous establishment. But even when Deno has made his last egg, his place will still exist in my and many minds exactly as it was for decades.
And isn’t that what’s great about the recesses of our minds? I remember every detail right down to Deno’s welcoming smile and the greasy grill smell as if I just scooted into a booth yesterday–but all I really did was reminisce about seeing my name in pink (in cursive).
Can Easter, or life, get any sweeter?
Buona Pasqua a tutti–photos of Calabrian festivities coming soon!
[tags]chocolate eggs, diners, homemade chocolate, easter, easter eggs[/tags]