Best Steak House

The plaintive mourning dove—that’s a powerful memory.

As a kid, I thought the dove’s “coo-coo-coo” did sound sad. Not specifically sad, more like a meditative sad. It definitely made you stop, listen, and think about things, no matter what you were doing at the time.

And that sound is attached to a place—the very place my brother, his wife, and I are going to during the first week of April: our mother’s childhood home and what will be the final resting place of her ashes alongside those of our father’s. It’s a trip we’d planned to do a year ago, but schedules didn’t quite align.

We leave on Tuesday morning; my brother’s excited. Says he wants to visit our birth home. “Do you remember where that is?” he asks. “Yup. Broad Ripple. North Indianapolis, near the White River. East 64th Street.

After that we’ll visit Dad’s only sister, Joyce, in East Indianapolis. Then the four of us, likely with my Uncle Gordon, will drive southeast to the small farming community of Greensburg, Ind., where at the South Park cemetery one half of the Family Project will be laid to rest.

***

While so many things were in flux that late spring of 1977, one thing in the diary stood out to me—well after the textbooks had been put away and we were minds and miles away from the high-school courtyard—on June 17, the Family Project did what the Family Project did on a special night out.

Go out for dinner at the Best Steak House in Wayzata.

Steak.

Dad considered it the centerpiece of a perfect meal. Accompanied by baked potato wrapped in foil, squeezed to receive a dash of salt, pepper, and dollop of sour cream topped with chives, buttered Texas toast, a pale-green iceberg lettuce side salad with an ice-cold Coca-Cola—you must’ve been doing something right.

It was popping up all over the diary, like Dad was always looking for an excuse to go out for a steak dinner.

And when both grandparents came to Minnesota for their annual summer visit—bring on the T-bone, Porterhouse, New York Strip!

I mention all this because Grandma and Grandpa Adams (whose Greensburg house we’re at above, and outside the back door, below, sometime in the mid-1960s) had an impeccably clean kitchen with its sparkling white Roper stove, where Grandma served up bland pot roast and olive drab green beans… only because, well, that’s the way Grandma cooked. Still, she made a swell cup of coffee for little brother and me to taste, loaded with sugar and whole milk.

Those drives down to Greensburg: I’ll never forget the tobacco ads on the sides of red barns, the billboard signs advertising motels and points of interest: The Tree on the Courthouse Tower! Visit Greensburg Today! Exit Ahead!

Brian and I will be taking that drive again, a good 45 years later.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel that Thursday we hold the final memorial service for Mom and Dad, seeing the grandparents’—the great-grandparents’—gravestones, taking walks through a Greensburg that I’m sure looks nothing like I would’ve remembered it in 1966, or for that matter in 1981, when we attended Grandma Adams’ funeral.

I’ll be looking for remnants of the past, the old Victorian gabled house Grandma and I walked past that looked spooky and deserted, where she held my hand as we tried not to “step on the sidewalk crack and break your mother’s back…”

I hope there’s some speck of the past still there—a small, hidden thing, that no one looks for anymore.

But because I was there long ago, I know where to look.

It could be a scent, a sound, something, anything—the cry of a mourning dove.

Or even the scent of a Best Steak House.

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~ by completelyinthedark on March 31, 2012.

One Response to “Best Steak House”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Been working on a new post about my maternal grandmother, and this chestnut came to mind. All new post up next Friday, promise!

    Like

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