Friday, August 18, 2006

RASCALS, INC. - Part One

(Cousin Jimmy and me)

As I said in my preview post, my parents and my aunt and uncle opened the 54 Diner shortly after WWII ended. My cousin Jimmy and I were about six years old at the time and had not started school yet. Since all the adults were busy serving customers, supervising Jimmy and me was a challenge for them. Jimmy's sister Betty, who was four years older than us, was expected to watch us when she wasn't in school. But Betty preferred twirling her baton and playing her accordion instead.

With little supervision and not much to do (we lived in the dark TV, no Nintendo, no computer games, and only a handful of toys) Jimmy and I had plenty of reason to get into trouble. This is when Rascals, Inc. was launched. It turned out to be a huge success! Years later after the shock had subsided, the family gave our escapades rave reviews. They became the centerpiece of the family lore.

The restaurant was on Route 54 just north of Kankakee, Illinois. Right behind the restaurant was Aunt Sue and Uncle Art's house, their garage, and the chicken coop where they kept laying hens for the eggs they could supply the restaurant. Behind all of that was a corn field. Up the road from the restaurant a little was Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market where Jimmy and I spent many memorable moments tormenting Mr. Divit by mauling his fruits and vegetables with our dirty hands.

To say that Mr. Divit was not fond of Jimmy and me is an understatement. Judging from the expression on his face whenever we showed up, I'd say we caused the hair on the back of his neck to bristle. To add to our unpopularity at Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market, it still was not clear in our young minds that you just don't help yourself to a banana or an apple in a store without paying for it. Otherwise, we were fast learners. We quickly learned that Mr. Divit would usually shoo us home as soon as he saw us. So, we learned to be sneaky about our arrival so that we could nose around all those fascinating fruits and vegetables as long as possible before Mr. Divit discovered us.

The metal roof of the Divit's store was low and slanted so that the rain would roll off. Alongside the building was an assortment of interesting things including an inviting stack of wooden crates that seemed to whisper "Come. Climb me."

The sky was clear on the day the rumbling started at Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market. It was intermittent, and to Mr. Divit it surely must have sounded like a cross between thunder and B52 Bombers flying overhead. At first he thought it must be a thunderstorm coming. But when he looked outside, there was not a cloud in sight and no darkness on the horizon. He began to worry that it might be his furnace. He checked it out. But it was okay. Then he began to get concerned about his refrigeration units. Maybe they were going bad. But there was nothing wrong with them either.

The rumbling continued. Mr. Divit ran outside to take another look at the sky. Still not a cloud was in sight. I am sure by then he was scratching his head and beginning to question his mental health.

Finally, he decided to get up on his roof and check it out as the rumbling was indeed coming from directly overhead. So, he got a ladder and leaned it up against the building and climbed up it. And what to his wandering eyes should appear, but Jimmy and me. We were squatted down on his metal roof and rolling a pop bottle back and forth to each other.

It would be the last time we fiddled around on top of Mr. Divit's roof and a long time before we would be allowed to return to his fruit and vegetable market.

To be continued.............

Monday, August 07, 2006

Coming Soon - Rascals, Inc.

Trouble and Trouble-ette
(Cousin Jimmy and me)

World War II had just ended when our parents decided to become restauranteurs and open The 54 Diner. Rascals, Inc. came into existence shortly afterwards. It was the natural outcome of giving two six-year-olds complete freedom nearly to do exactly what they pleased while the parents worked the whole day long dishing up food for hungry truckers.

Although our antics produced no permanent harm to anyone and we all made it out of that period of time alive, it is not a pretty story. Certainly it is not a story that children 13 and under should read.

The ugly details are coming soon. But don't hold your breath; I'm a busy woman lately!