Because I’m in touch with members of my high school Class of ’70, I learned recently that the dear old Alpine Restaurant on Lee Highway is about to be torn down to make way for a day care center. The second thing I learned was that it had been in operation since 1966, a year during which I was demonstrably alive, and had been for some time. But I couldn’t remember the restaurant at all. My friends reminisced about the place, and someone provided a photograph–a fake chalet sort of façade–and I still couldn’t recognize it, even though it had to be pretty close to my house. I checked the address.
Well, such is the nature of my Magic-Slate brain, in which most memory is peeled away for a fresh new sheet in case something interesting comes along. Clearly I have no recollection of the Alpine Restaurant because we never, ever ate there. One of my friends said his family didn’t go often because they didn’t have the budget for it, so that proves it. My father took the family out to dinner every Saturday night because he believed Mom should not have to cook seven days a week. And every single Saturday night for years we went to the Seven Corners shopping center and ate at the S&W Cafeteria in the basement. Where, I assume, you didn’t have to tip.
|Vacation is fun!|
We did go to restaurants when we were on vacation. One vacation my mom broke the heck out of her ankle in South Dakota and had to stay in a hospital while Dad drove my sister and me back home to Virginia. We went into a restaurant one night, the only one for miles, and as soon as we got seated we realized we’d made a huge mistake. The place was tinkly with inappropriate laughter from adults with genuine cocktails and the waiter brought enormous leather-bound menus over in which every entrée was at least one decimal point over budget. One of them was “Mermaid Steak,” presumably a surf ‘n’ turf deal. I was terrified. Daddy said we could leave and he got up to tell the waiter we wouldn’t be staying, but it took a bit to get his attention, and when I saw a straight path had opened up to the front door, I hollered “Run, Daddy!” and we all peeled out of there. I don’t know what we did for dinner.