The Fort - I Know I'll Often Stop and Think About Them

It's always the same story I guess, you can't wait to leave somewhere and yet you hold your fondest deepest memories of being there.  I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana until I was 21 years old.  I have battling memories of that town but so many great documented times.  Interesting thrift and paraphernalia shops with hippie clothes and smelling of good incense.  It was the early 70's and you'd find me driving around in a Carmen Ghia, or my Orange Celica GT Liftback after I totalled my dad's Omega green Cutlass Supreme.  There were lots of Motorcyle riders that filled the parks in the summer.  The guys had long hair and beards, flannel shirts and jeans, most likely holding factory jobs with a pension and a lot of free time. 

Everything would change with the 80s.

I have great memories of our whole family around at the time.  We were young enough to still really like each other and no one had done anything that stupid yet.  We visited each other often and I babysat my nieces and nephews regularly. It was all kind of normal.  I had friends that I knew for years and you could hop in your car and go anywhere, come back and you'd always have a space to park.  There were lightning bugs and lakes, fishing and driving to swim in the summer.  It would get so green there that it would look like a jungle.  We had amazing thunder storms and threats of tornadoes but would never get one. 

 Diverse restaurants with food to build dreams on, like the grinders at Zoli's Hungarian Restaurant.

 Or I hate to even mention the competitor's but the burritos at El Azteca Mexican Restaurant on State Street were so worth sneaking out and enjoying as long as no one mentioned it to my parents who had their own restaurant on the other side of town called El Charro.  That food was hands down the best the Fort had to offer in Mexican Restaurants but also had a seasoned grill for great cheeseburgers and toasted buns.

The Boston Cooler's at Zesto's!  Vanilla Ice Cream with ginger ale in exactly the right amount of fizz to cream ratio. 

Casa D'Angelo with that Quattro Formaggi cream sauce!  Kill me now, honestly.  Still best ever, all time.

The coldest root beer ever to roll down your throat in those icey frothy mugs and the sound the station wagon made rolling over the gravel at the A&W Root Beer stand on South Anthony Blvd.
 And then Dawson's Pizza right next door!  Bonus!
 Sambo's restaurant with all those politically incorrect pics on the walls!  ha!
 Home of Seyfert's Potato Chips, regular and barbecue.  I hope you've got your hat on your chest right about now because I'm about to bawl.

South Side High School memories mostly of pulling up in front to whisk away my friend Brenda for a full day of skipping school and getting high on bad weed and warm beer.

Before the restaurant my mom worked nights at Wayne Candies and always smelled of sweet chocolate and maple from the Big Bun bars. We had to stay awake so we could pick her up and she usually had a Carmel Cluster in her sweater pocket.

 My mom and dad's first restaurant inside the Indiana Hotel on Jefferson and having an entire building to play in complete with action front desk and lobby.  All the keys and check in papers were still in place as if everyone just walked away from their jobs one day and locked the doors.  Even the plumbing still worked in the rooms.
Gosh, remember the dam.  I could never NOT look at it when driving by.
Lakeside Park Rosegarden.  My sister Terry drove her MG Midget car into this park's lake on a full sized night of drinking.
 General Electric where lots of my friends families worked and near the site of our 3rd Restaurant before it shut down.
 Whitey's Mansion but not looking anything like this, instead haunted with trees all around and deserted.  McCormick Park and the legend of Old Man Tucker doing something creepy enough to some kid that I stayed away from this building until I was past 18 years old.

No childhood nightmare is complete without the old State School Building that housed the mentally disabled back when they used to treat them pretty poorly.  Complete with cells that looked like cages that you could see from the back view once abandoned. 
Passing by the smell of the Sunbeam Bread Factory as I was driving to babysit my nephew Drew in the wee early morning hours....

A sack of Power's hamburgers and chili after a full night of debauchery.  And then the shameful smell it left in your car the next day when you just needed to forget all the dumb things you said and did.

Going even further back and the drunken family car rides to Laredo's after the Mexican dances to feed on huge bowls of Menudo.  An alcoholic's tender teaching moment by my dad.  Hangover medicine, an introduction in Tripe.

Getting groceries from Eavey's and that huge sign.  I'd go just to see that sign and marvel at how they got all that giant fruit in there without it falling out. 

For me the past is either too painful to stomach or it's so rich in fun and beauty that I can't even stand myself.   Today, I'll choose to cherish all those happy memories and spare myself because what doesn't kill you only makes you appreciate the good times that much more.

1 comment:

Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?