Mary Ann’s Diner
I egress to an overnight frost, perhaps the last of this season. A different road is taken this early morn under cloudy sky. The rise and fall of hills–twists and turns of a never straightforward road. I pass old farms and churches’ spires. They mark time and my passing on the road to Mary Ann’s Diner and Family Restaurant. It is done up 50’s style. Choice of booths, tables for two and four squeeze in six in a pinch. The counter for single lonely souls lost in a paper, a cigarette, a dream. TV is on but no sound and here no one cares for that kind of news. The music here is fifties and sixties oldies played back to back in an endless flow from past memory to present thought, noninvasive in a subtle and seamless meld of years. I sit with the lonely souls at the counter with a local newspaper but it is hard to read with all the life and sound around me. I play name that tune–name that band–feel that memory–emotion with the music. The flow of music matches the life of the place and the quickstep of the waitresses. Full–bodied waitresses in long poodle skirts, bobby socks and soft shoes, friendly,
carrying their loads with big smiles. Coffee and ice water brought to me with never– ending refills. Ol’ style breakfast made to your liking. I order steak tips marinated in raspberry sauce with eggs over medium, home fries and raisin toast-$7.50. Smiles small talk and refills free and this diner’s experience priceless.
A place where you are always welcome a sanctuary of sorts. Local contractors make their plans for the day; count the week’s profit and loss. Workers of all sorts fill their tanks with good food and fuel for the day’s travails, still stiff from yesterdays work. They shake it off here and get it up to do it again in their own endless flow of work, recovery, work that makes this country run.
Couples meet greet hangout, form and break relationships in a life flow of the yin and yang-the profit and loss of love and affection. Families sit together and show the strain and gain of their growth over time.
Conversations of the day: weather, sports, family progress, accomplishment and setback, goals and dreams, gossip and truth all meld with the music of the place. Spring’s arrival and blossoming, another week removed from winter, a new season and a fresh if cool and cloudy day.
No promises made; however, those who stop at Mary Ann’s leave with a full stomach and a spirit filled with smell of coffee and good food, the sound of human contact and connection in varied form.
A man sits at the counter alone; two bikers who have hardly touched their breakfast are leaving in a hurry. I move to the space provided and find out why they are moving on. The man in his 30’s is a local and a regular. He is also manic–depressive, schizophrenic, Bi-Polar or all of the above. He immediately talks to me at breakneck speed in a flow of words that have meaning but make no real sense. In ten minutes he goes from being the reincarnation of Jim Morrison of the Doors to a Naval Academy graduate at the head of his class. He had a busy night at a secret NATO meeting with CIA, FBI and national security
types. The meeting ended early when the Russians did not show up. He tells me he is still in the military and I ask in what way? He says that he is in deep too deep undercover and secret. He moves from booth to booth asking for a cigarette as I move over one stool at the counter. I can listen better and finish my breakfast from this vantage point and the waitresses understand that I cannot solve this man or the nation’s problems today. I must finish and join the workers soon as schedule intrudes on the seamless flow of music and conversation. Connections made and lost–hope for the lonely soul at the counter that tomorrow he will find communication, connection, and peace. Hope for the man with the paper that he will turn the page to someone’s smile and a new start. All in sanctuary found at a 50’s style diner, oldies playing as full–bodied women in long skirts serve up a new day.