When I was a kid, my Dad owned and ran a luncheonette in Pound Ridge, New York. Pound Ridge is located close to New York City and very close to the western border of Connecticut. I worked with my Dad as a kid and continued working with him until I graduated from college and entered the seminary.
Working at the family restaurant was a great experience. Aside from the strong work ethic and family values that my Dad instilled in all of his employees, I learned a lot about people. There is much to learn about human nature when people are hungry and in a hurry.
The Village Luncheonette opened punctually Monday through Saturday at 7:30 a.m. On Saturdays and all summer, I would arrive early in the morning with my Dad in order to get the place ready for business. Coffee had to be brewed; the grill had to be heated up; the little milk pitchers had to be set out on the counter.
Like clockwork, the customers were at the door at 7:30 a.m. The first morning crowd consisted mostly of the dedicated crew that worked for Larry Jacoby, a local home builder. However, mixed in with the crew were all sorts of other interesting people. Among them was Mike Lapore.
You can imagine what the place was like at 7:30 a.m… very quiet. You could hear a pin drop. My Dad was in the small kitchen, located at the back of the restaurant, preparing the lunch menu for later in the day. Sherry, an industrious waitress, was working the grill. I was at the counter. The groggy customers were yet to come alive.
Every morning, as if it were a ritual, my Dad would place two or three copies of the New York Daily News on the counter for the reading pleasure of the customers. The newspapers had been purchased on the drive to work. I understand that Squashes, the local newspaper store, is still an important part of the quaint, small town atmosphere of Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Mike was retired from something. I can’t remember. He would always be at the restaurant every morning at 7:30 AM for his coffee and breakfast. He would sit quietly at the very end of the counter, close to the kitchen, reading a copy of the New York Daily News. The whole place would be totally silent.
This was the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Cities were being burnt down. Riots were taking place on college campuses. These were the years of Vietnam. The country was in turmoil.
From time to time Mike, with his characteristic Brooklyn accent, would yell out, piercing through the early morning silence as he read the headlines: “Sal, it’s the end of the world!” Sooner or later my Dad would emerge from the kitchen and he and Mike would begin arguing with Larry Jacoby, who was quite liberal in his politics.
Mike hated New York City Mayor John Lindsey with a passion. He would go on and on. My Dad would nod with approval. Larry would argue. And so went the early mornings in a small town family restaurant.
If Mike were alive today I wonder what he would say about the presidency of Barack Obama? The very ideas that inspired the leftist radicals of the 1960’s and the 1970’s to burn down cities and destroy college campuses are the same ideas that make up Obama’s ideology. Yes, Obama is the embodiment of that same movement of Marxists-Socialists that hate America and kill babies through abortion on demand.
The world did not end in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Hopefully it will not come to an end just yet. But, without a doubt, Barack Obama is putting the nails in the coffin of the country that we all love.
The killing of innocent babies through abortion will continue. The gay agenda will flourish. The economy will continue to be in turmoil. How can a country be productive if it has become so immoral and corrupt? Islam will persist as a continual threat.
The world that we once knew is ending. The world of growing up in small towns and in small restaurants; the world of hard work, family values, Sunday church and vibrant neighborhoods are, for the most part, something of the American past.
So, what are we supposed to do about this mess?
Today, Mike Lapore might sit down at my Dad’s restaurant, drink his coffee, eat his breakfast and argue with Larry, but it is too comfortable merely to complain.
We need doers, people of action.
When Barack Obama became our president, I never expected to see a Tea Party Movement and Town Hall meetings. I never thought that talk radio, Fox News and the Internet would have such an impact. This much is very positive; we do have a voice. However, we can be even more effective if you and I focus on our local communities. We still can build strong families, lively neighborhoods, vibrant churches, honest places of work and quality schools.
We still can close down local abortion clinics and provide assistance to unwed mothers who are caught in the trap of a crisis pregnancy.
We still can promote traditional values by living those values in our daily lives.
I remember Mike Lapore. He was alarmed about what was going on many years ago. I, too, am alarmed by what went on then and what is going on today. I am determined to keep on fighting the good fight. I hope that all of you never will be discouraged.