Friday, March 22, 2013

Pop's Chicken Dinners SOLC2013 #22 of 31


Chicken dinners hold a special place in our family heritage.  And I guess I need to qualify, fried chicken dinners to be specific.  It didn't matter where we went to eat with my grandfather, he ordered the chicken dinner with a doggie bag.  I do not remember him ever ordering anything different.  If chicken was on the menu, chicken is what he got.

Growing up, we had a few special places where we dined with Grandma and Pop.  We followed the same routine:  get coats on at
4:15 while  Pop backed the car out of the garage.  Arrive at Laconi's by 4:30.  As Pop ever so slowly pulled into the parking space, he and Grandma both opened their car doors to make sure he was in between the yellow lines.  The kids would chorus, "Don't fall out!"  If all was well, we hopped out and darted into the restaurant.  My grandparents were regulars there and had their own booth.  Pop didn't need a menu.  The waitress knew what he wanted:  three piece chicken dinner with jojos and a doggie bag.  (Jojos are the quintesssential broasted potato served with chicken in the Cuyahoga Falls/Akron area).  After we ordered, he'd tell the waitress that he was paying the first quarter and to give the check to me.  I never grew  tired of hearing him say that.  He continued to say those words even after I was grown up and had my own children.

The doggie bag was a must have.  Pop never ate all of his chicken.  I'm not sure if he wanted to eat it or not.  No matter, because one or two pieces were reserved for the dog. Yes, the doggie bag was really for the dog.  We carried chicken home to the dog no matter what.  You won't be surprised to learn that their dogs were all overweight. (If there wasn't chicken in the evening, the dogs got bologna and cheese while Grandma had a glass of wine.)

Pop and his chicken dinners are legendary in my family.  We counted on going out to eat with him at least once when we visited for a long weekend.  Going on vacation at the cabin?  We went to Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken in Ashtabula.  Dinner for a college student on a Friday night?  The restaurant of choice was Kentwood in Kent, Ohio.  Grandma and Pop lived about 20 minutes from my dorm.  At least once a month, they'd pick me up (sometimes with a friend) at 4:15ish so we'd be seated at the restaurant by 4:30.    Again, the routine would be the same.  Pull in, check to make sure the car was between the yellow lines, (Don't fall out), go in and order a 3  piece chicken dinner with jojos and a doggie bag.  "I'll pay the first quater.  Give her the check," he'd inform the waitress as he pointed at me, always with his devilish grin.

Today, I spent the afternoon looking through old pictures at my mom and dad's house.  So many memories came flooding back, among them Pop's chicken dinners.  My grandfather was a man of few words.  Some thought him intimidating,  but never once did any of us kids not feel totally loved and cherished by him.  Tonight, I had a 3 piece chicken dinner in his honor, and yes, I got a box for the leftovers.

Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life Challenge.

10 comments:

  1. I had to chuckle as I read this. I had the honor of attending several of those chicken dinners with your grandparents, and tonight's dinner, nearly thirty years later was a great tribute.

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  2. Great writing! I enjoyed sometimes a meal or piece of food will bring back a memory or tradition of some sort for me, too!

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  3. Your story made me tear up! Such a sweet memory!

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  4. This was a delightful read. I love family memories.

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  5. The kids would chorus, "Don't fall out!" I could just see this...hilarious! I can relate to those cherished memories with my grandparents. I think I'll make grandpa's famous eggs tomorrow in his honor :)

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  6. You capture your grandfather so well in this post--great details, language, rituals. It makes me want to have specific lines that I repeat so that people hear them and always think of me. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Julie, thanks for sharing such a great memory! I love looking through old pictures too! :)

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  9. The use of the phrase "I'll pay the first quarter" was honored on my tattoo. Pop is one of a kind & I miss him everyday.

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  10. Great memory. And delightful writing!

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