Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Website and Blog site

I have been at blogspot for many years now but it is time for me to change.

I do this because our new website is built in wordpress and it works better that way. I hope to make a link to my older posts there, however, also.

Thanks for following me and let me know if you like this change or not.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Happy 2012 everyone. I think we are all anxious to see what this new year will bring to all of us. After all, it might be our last, right?

My Monday started out as many of them do. I donned my Duck Hawaiian shirt and my Duck Jake's hat as I headed out to the diner to start the day. One never knows what the business will be like on a day like today. The weather is suppose to be good, the day is suppose to be a holiday as banks and government are closed, and it is the last school holiday before classes go back on Tuesday.

I had worked late on Sunday to insure that Casey had all that he needed to get payroll ready to be sent and had promised to meet him early to get that ready to go. I met Casey at a quiet diner and had breakfast with a good friend, Ernie while I waited for the rest of the crew to arrive.

At 9, I had more crew than I did customers. My two bussers were just standing around, so I found 'things' for them to do which I think irritated them a bit. The wait staff busied themselves getting ready for what they hoped to be a strong day. The warmer the day got, the more I knew this would not be the case. I have found out from years past that warm weather is a bane to restaurants, especially this time of year. By 11, I was sending half of the crew home and myself was in the car now getting ready for the biggest part of the day......The Rose Bowl.

I stopped at a store to pick up some goodies for the game and slipped into a newly opened line to advantage as all of the other lines were long with other guys doing the same. The man behind me spied my junk food and quipped, "So, are these the secret ingredients for Jake's?". I smiled and countered with one word that most men understand so intimately......"Gameday!".

Driving back to the house, I checked up at the diner to ensure my presence was not needed there and arriving at the house, I began taking advantage of the warm weather myself by taking down the Christmas ornaments from the outer part of the house. As I boxed and loaded up for storage, the rest of my 'Gameday' crew arrived.....Carrie and Jay and then Frank and Jason.

I quickly took down and boxed the tree, capitalizing on the fact that Frank could help me put this largest box to sleep for the year. By the time I had finished and joined them in the room, however, nearly all of the pizza was gone. I was glad for the half sandwich that I had downed before leaving the diner as I now snacked on one of the remaining pieces while we all waited for the kick off.

Carrie quipped that their certainly seemed to be a whole lot of red in the stadium. "Must be quite a few USC fans there", I returned. As the Ducks came running out on the field, their shiny chrome hats glittered in the sun, their mirrored effect sparkling like stars.

The beginning of the game showed what most people expected. The Ducks did not seem to be able to stop the Badgers and the Badgers could not stop the Ducks. They matched each other evenly for both of the first two quarters to set a new Rose Bowl record of points in the first half of the game. I remember that announcers commenting as the Duck punter came out towards the end of the half on one of the rare stops that it was a rare sight to behold......a punter in the game.

Towards the end of the first half, the Badgers much touted running back who now had over 150 yards under his belt, tried to jump over a Duck defender. The replay looked like something that might be used over and over on the highlight reels as he landed straddled on the helmet of the defender. We all laughed and commented on whether on how high his voice must be after such a hit. Jay got a kick out of running the play back and forth on my DVR. Carrie noticed something and asked him to run it back one more time. She told us all to be quiet and listen closely to the speakers. As his groin once more landed on the solid helmet, someone clearly stated 'Ouch' in one of the speakers which brought immediate laughter to the room.

As the sun began to set, the shiny hats of the Ducks seemed to be even brighter. The men calling the game commented that they were having a hard time reading to numbers on the jerseys from the brightness of the helmets. "I think I have a play", I commented to the room. "One of our linemen just stands and rolls his head until the sun shines into the eyes of the quarterback blinding him while allowing the others to reach him for the sack.". I wondered if this would cause a new rule mirrored helmets.

The second half of the game was much like the first with the score going back and forth. We all hoped this would be to the Ducks advantage as they are usually very much a second half team and true to form, they shut down the Badgers in the 4th quarter and earned themselves the first Rose Bowls win in 95 years.

We watched the jubilant Ducks as they celebrated their win but could not miss the disappointment of the Wisconsin team and faithful. The coach was short with the handshake and the mike picked up the Badger quarterback as he fained off an interview telling them that he was just too emotional to comment right then. While I was happy that the Ducks had finally won a BCS bowl game, I certainly felt for the many fans and teammates who had gone so many miles to lose at the end of the game.

As the game finished, I jumped into the car and headed down to the diner to run the weekly poker tourney for Habitat. I ate a quick supper while the players arrived and made ready for this popular weekly game. We have now gone over $30,000 raised in this donation game that helps build houses for people who would generally not be able to afford one.

We started off with two tables and I got off quickly winning the first hand and garnering a good quick stack of chips with a full house right out of the gate. As the end of the first set of the game, I was by far the chip leader. The next hand was the last hand to rebuy and I had a King and Queen of hearts in my pocket. Two players went all in expecting to rebuy and I just could not see myself to fold this hand. As I matched their chips and flipped over my cards, I smiled as I matched up against a 10 4 and a King Jack. But then came the flop and a 10. The turn brought a Jack and the river brought another 10. My pair now last, I lost most of my stack of chip to the other two who now had healthy chip stacks leaving me with next to nothing. I was soon out of the competition and begged myself out so I could go home and watch the other big bowl game.

I watched as the other game seemed to be almost a carbon copy of our earlier one with the two teams deadlocked at the half just as ours was. With the score tied in the waning seconds of the game, the Stanford team being so close to the goal went away from their norm and just set up for the winning chip shot field goal. The camera swept down to a young man who was down on one knee preparing for what was to be a defining moment of his life.....the chance at less than 20 years old to win a BCS bowl game for his team. I could see the weight that the young man was carrying as he stepped out onto the field. The Oklahoma State coach called his last time out and I took note the tightness of the young man as he attempted to casually walk off his jitters. I openly wondered why they had not just let him kick through as the other team called time as I had seen others in the past calm themselves by kicking this free but seemingly meaningless kick. My fears were validated as the young man pushed the kick off to the left sending the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Stanford team seemed to do the same as they had at the end of the game, running the ball instead of using their greatest asset, the skill of their quarterback who had rode the team on its back all year, losing only to our beloved Ducks. The shook up young man trotted back out on the field and while closer, still missed the goal again to the left. All OSU needed to do was kick its own field goal and win the game of which they did. As the earlier game, the OSU fans and team were jubilant. The camera caught it all, however, as the young man.....not even 20 years old sat on the sidelines, his head in his hands.

My heart went out to this young man as I watched him. This highly touted and highly recruited youngster who had just had his life crushed. I imagined how he must have felt.....probably feeling that he had just let down his family, his team, and his community.

My adversities of the day and that of the Wisconsin faithful seemed so light as I compared them to the overwhelmed young man who sat alone, his shoulders dropped and his head only held up by hands propped up by elbows sitting on his knees.

I realize that he is just a freshman and he has three more years to redeem himself but right here right now, he probably is at his lowest part of his young career. They say that adversity builds character and it will be interesting to see what happens to this boy in his coming years. I know it is just a game but to that young man, it is the start of his career and I certainly hope that one day, I will see him kick that winning field goal in a future Super Bowl or something of that caliber. It will be interesting to follow his career.

Happy New Year everyone.....and Go Ducks!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Love my Ducks?

I took the girls and Jay to the Virginia game at the new arena in Eugene on Sunday. We packed up the car right after Jay took a quick needed shower from his Lacrosse practice.

The new arena is beautiful and there are no bad seats. Ours were in the top row just behind the Oregon bench. We had a great view of the floor and though I could not make out the names on the back of their jerseys, I pretty much knew from sight or from the announcers shouts who they were as they played.

Just before the game, we were all told to stand, take off our hats, face the flag, and honor it with the national anthem. Now, that was one thing I could not see from my perch was the flag. The reason was that a side board that showed stats throughout the game was blocking it. I looked to see where the crowd was looking and my eyes moved past the Duck bench. What I saw made my blood boil. A line of players were standing facing towards the flag.....but many of them were looking down at their feet. They seem to be fidgeting, anxious for the game to start. I wanted to scream out but from my distance, they would have not heard. The coach was standing behind them. I am not sure if he had his hand over his heart or not but in my mind, I was yelling....."Get those guys in line! Honor our flag!"

I turned and found the flag but my experience had been tempered with the thought of these young men....and their ungrateful poses. Throughout the game it gnawed at me. It almost seemed fitting that they lost. Someone should tell them....but who?

After the game, we stopped for gas and food and arrived back in Bend around 7 or so. That night, when I could not sleep, I drifted around the net and looked for analysis of the game. As I opened up the sports page, I was taken by the article of Jeremy Shockey of the Carolina Panthers and how he had called out certain Houston Texans for the same thing that had bugged me at he Duck game.

The thoughts of how I had felt flooded through my mind and I set myself off on a mission. First to discover who the athletic department head was. I knew that Mike Bellotti had taken the job for a very short time a couple of years back but had left quickly. So, I searched and found that the new man's name is Rob Mullens. I then searched for an access email but only found the website for the Ducks. So, I went to and searched finding only the contact page. It said that I could email the athletic department so that is where I made my stand.

The following was my complaint:

Now, I want to preface this with a statement. I am a die hard true blue (er green and yellow) Duck fan. I have been for as far back as I remember.

I took my kids to the recent Virginia game and sat in section 205 behind the Duck bench.

As the national anthem started, I could not see the flag so I looked around to see where the people were looking so that I could pay tribute to it myself.

What I found, however, shocked me to the core. The line of Ducks had many of them their shoes! I stood and watched as they shuffled and squirmed, looking down and not up at the colors that we all should be giving honor to.

I know the coach could see this as he was standing behind them.

There are very few things that could make me turn my back on my beloved team......this is one of them!

Please......Please......Please......have the coach inform them of where their respect is due.

I am sure that you had enough cameras going that you should be able to see what I am talking about.

As a patriot and a Vietnam vet, I implore you to look into this situation.

Lyle Hicks

I punched the send button and went back off to bed. I received the following reply from whom ever screens the emails for the website:

Lyle, thank your feedback. We have forwarded your email on to the appropriate sources for further review.

I am a bit perplexed as to who the appropriate sources are (desk clerk?) and what their further review will be (round file?).

I will assure you of one thing, I do not intend to let it go. If we do not teach our children the due respect for our flag, our country, and what we have fought for where shall we go and what are we doomed for?

This same point was driven home by the chaplain today at the beginning of the Band of Brothers meeting. He encouraged the over 100 strong meeting to teach their children and their grandchildren the true story of our country, what we stand for, what we have all fought for, and why. This is not being taught in our schools and can only be taught by us.

Now, I can't see myself going to any more of the games this season, but rest assured, I will be watching for this whenever the cameras of the televised games show them. And I hope that their are others who will also make this stand and hold our youth accountable.

Thank you, Mr Shockey for the encouragement. Your stand will lead to others.

May God bless America!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tis the Season

We are only a little over a week away from Christmas. Wow, how the year has passed. This is the season that most people feel the desire to give. The man on the street corner, the bell ringer in front of the store, or the various organizations whose responsibility is to help such as food banks or shelters.

But, what of the season just afterwards......The coldest time of the year. What do we do then?

Back in 1995, I remember reading an article that a friend had written where he ended up giving his Christmas bonus out in a variety of ways to people who he met who he saw needed it more than him. I was warmed and inspired by the words that he wrote.

In January of the next year, I was driving home from work and had parked on the south side of Albertsons and was getting back in my car after my purchases. As I started my car, my lights fell on a figure huddled against the wall. His crouching body with head down showed me that he was trying to stay warm away from the wind that was howling around the building.

I sat there, my car at idle, and stared at the figure. My daughter sitting next to me broke my silence when she spoke, "You are going to do something, Dad, aren't you?". She knew me well and I slipped out of my warm idling car and crouched down next to him. I still recall his haunting eyes as they looked up at me from under the dirty ball cap.

I asked him when he last ate. He stated the day before, he thought. Reaching in my pocket, I extracted a business card and wrote on the back. I told him that the diner was only a block or so down the road, invited him to it, and then told him that he could go to the truck stop side afterwards and get a shower if he wished.

The next morning, a smiling cleaner face met me in the truckers lounge as I arrived at work. I saw him from time to time after that and we always greeted each other. While I don't know what ever happened to him, the incident caused my mind to begin to wander on the subject and a food and clothing drive began from it that I named MOW for Middle of Winter.

Customers began dropping off warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, and food. Others left money that I used to purchase more sleeping bags since they were the thing most in demand. Originally, we ran this drive from January to March each year.

As the years progressed, the drive remained but evolved. At first, it was St Vincent de Paul who did the distributing. Then I met Capt John from the Salvation Army. I came to know and love him and his family and while he was here in Bend, they became my distribution point. We also shared a love of football and the same teams, The Oregon Ducks and the San Diego Chargers. I stopped to see him in Newport last September when Judy and I were there visiting bragging that I now knew Dan Fouts just so I could watch his envious reaction.

Then came the Band of Brothers and Chuck Hemmingway who leads Central Oregon Veterans Outreach (COVO). Last year, we agreed to use them as the main distribution point and something else happened. While I pulled the bins sometime in the spring, the supplies never stopped. Most every week, someone drops by clothes or supplies and every Monday, Chuck or someone else takes them down to the COVO office where they are distributed directly to the ones who need them the most.

My friend, Brian Standiford, who is the service manager for Smolich Hyundai in front of us even brings back brand new sleeping bags on a regular basis helping fill this need that is year around but especially prevalent in the coming colder months.

I used this story when I addressed a Christian Businessman's group that meets at the diner last week. It is my hope that it might inspire other thoughts and ideas just as the article had laid the foundation for this so many years ago.

Yes, it is Christmas Season.....the time when we are inspired to give. But remember, this is only one month. There are eleven more afterwards and each one will give us opportunities. And, I would add, our responsibility to make the best of them....and hopefully make a difference in this world.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A busy season

The Christmas season is traditionally a busy time for us all. Besides the normal business, there are parties to prepare for, parades to be part of, Shopping, and decorations.

But, this year, I have had to add something new to the list, bookkeeping. Our bookkeeper, Summer, is on maternity leave so with the help of Casey (who has never had any training), I am attempting to keep up this very important part of the business at a very crucial time of the year.

It has brought me back to my roots in the business, however. Back when I first started working for Jake's in 1982, I only worked the fuel islands for a couple of months before I was brought up into the office to assist in the books. I was taking accounting classes at COCC back then so the new job became a practical application for my classes and also helped me gain a pretty good foundation for my first management job there when I was promoted to Restaurant manager.

It seems so many years ago but I remember much of it so well. A few years later after beginning computer classes, I even wrote the first accounting package for the business. Jake allowed me to purchase an old XT model computer. In fact, it was the computer that Oregon Computers (now ORCOM) first started their business with. They had upgraded to the new AT and we purchased their original computer, printer, and home made printer stand complete with carpet lining to help muffle out the sound. Even though the computer was upgraded a short time later, the printer remained our main printer for many years to come.

I recall how I had never really used a ten key before and how I practised over and over until I was able to use it without looking at it. I was placed in a room with their then main bookkeeper who seemed to be there for window dressing. She spent much of her time on the phone, or doing her nails, or ......talking. She often took an extended lunch break sunning herself on the roof outside of the office. I soon found out that I was actually hired to take her place and she was sent down to the fuel desk in a promotion of sorts.

I am so thankful for those years that laid out the foundation for understanding the business that I would later come to call my own. Back then, I couldn't decide if I wanted to attempt to become an accountant or a computer programmer. I didn't realize that God had something totally different in store for me.

When I took the business over, I attempted to keep the same structure that was laid out so many years ago which included a vacation benefit and end of year, Christmas bonuses. I wanted the crew to feel comfortable and wanted to show them that I was committed to more than just profit.

After we moved to our existing building, we added something to the Christmas part by holding an annual Christmas party. Jimmy will produce the main course (Meat and Potatoes) and the crew will bring a dish of their own. It made for a good time to give them their bonuses and allowed Judy and I to add something new to our tradition. We call it the 'Judy & Lyle appreciation awards'. It has become the vehicle to have a little fun while we take time to show them that we care for them as a family not just as employees.

So, each year, we sit down the week before the event and attempt to come up with something either funny or flattering regarding each and every one of them. This has become even more trickier as the years go by when you try not to just duplicate something that you have used in the past.

Today is the day and we have spent the last week preparing for the event. Each year, we have tried to give it a different flavor and this year, I think our games should be very entertaining. We have also invited a couple of our friends from the Band of Brothers who help us out with the meeting and have become greater parts or our extended family. I believe the highlight of the evening just might be one of our new games. We will ask for 12 volunteers (Judy will pick if we don't get any), place them in a line, put candy canes in their mouths, and sing the twelve days of Christmas. It should be very entertaining and fun.

Last year, a local businessman stopped in for supper thinking we were open. I invited him in, placed him in one of the booths, got him some prime rib, and allowed him to watch our festivities. He later told me that he really enjoyed himself and that it would be something that he would not soon forget.

While going over the list of employees this past week, I was overwhelmed at the number who either came with us so long ago or started shortly there after. It is my hope and desire that this event will show all of them that even though I push them during the year, I care for all of them deeply and appreciate the fact that they have stuck with Judy and I for these years.

Merry Christmas everyone. May your holidays be happy ones.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Small Business Saturday

I watched the ads last week promoting this event. American Express was the who started it all and it certainly, in theory is a great idea. I believe that they even promised a credit on your account if you used your card at participating businesses.

Maybe that was my problem since I don't take American Express cards. I stopped taking those years back when I got tired of their high charges and the fact that they sat on the money for a day or so longer. Those are both detriments to small business and I found that the few people who made comments regarding my dropping the card said they used the card only because they received greater discounts from it at restaurants adding fuel to my assertion that American Express was in deed not very small business oriented.

So, I guess it would surprise no one to know that Small Business Saturday was my quietest Saturday of the year.

Now, there were other variables involved also such as a rather nice day and a football game (Oregon/Oregon State). As a matter of fact, after the game started, business just died.

My day actually started at two chain stores. My buddy, Frank and I drove out to World Market to get our free TinTin ornaments and ended up getting a coffee at Starbucks right next door while we waited (Frank had earned some free coffee there online). We sat in our car drinking the coffee and a large van pulled in next to us. A man decked out in camo gear jumped out with a ragged TinTin tshirt showing out from underneath his jacket. He was the first in line.

Now, usually you see women as the primary shoppers but when it comes to freebees, I think it is the man who is the primary there. We walked up to the line shortly before the store opened up. A couple of women were talking and I thought they were together until one of them told us that she was just talking to the other since they were just about the only women in line. A quick scan of the line validated her claim and my conclusion.

Arriving back at the diner with my prizes (an ornament and a free movie ticket), I went about helping the servers buss tables while Frank stopped and chatted with some of the locals at the counter.

Two young men asked for me at the register and I went up to meet two of the Mountain View Cougar Football team members who thanked me for supporting the team. I congratulated them on their win the night before and told them that my grandson and I had followed the game online since it was not broadcast on TV. They showed me their picture in the paper and I cut it out, had them sign it, and placed it up by the register. Next Saturday night, this always great local team will be playing Sherwood for the state title.

After working most of the morning, I headed home to join Frank, Jason Blodgett, Carrie, and Jayden for the Civil War game. Football and Pizza took over our afternoon.

After everyone left, I headed back to a still quiet diner to check on the evening meal. We bake off Prime Rib every Saturday for the evening special and I kicked myself for not cancelling for the week, knowing that this Saturday would probably be a little shy compared to others.

With a supper of Prime Rib tacos in me, I called it an early night wondering what small business in Bend might have benefited from the day. Maybe one of the better local pizza joints or the local sports bars for the game.

Please don't get me wrong. The concept of the day is great. I believe that the back bone of our country is small business. My problem with the day lies in the promoter not the promo tee especially since as a small business, I rely on my local traffic for my survival and appreciate every person who walks through our door.

Happy Small Business Saturday, folks!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks Giving

I awoke, laying in my bed thinking of the last minute things that needed to happen for the day. We were stepping into new territory, an evolution of the event that we started six years back now was moving on to a new venue....The Bend Senior Center.

I showered and readied myself still checking things off in my head. The last thing that I wanted to do was to find myself driving back and forth getting things that I had forgotten about that were needed to pull this event off.

I arrived at the diner to find it buzzing with action. The guys were loading Jerry Bugge's trailer with all of the food that was soon to be consumed by hopefully happy Seniors. I am very grateful that Jerry loaned us his trailer. We had taken over the equipment yesterday and the food this morning. Two trips was all that was needed and all because of his huge trailer.

Kevin was on the line cooking off last minute stuff and he prepared me some breakfast as I put together the register and credit card system that we would need. I took a look at the reservation list and realized that I needed to prepare a list for the ones that we needed to pick up and for all of the deliveries.

I sat down at the counter with Gary and John (two of our regulars who had come in through the kitchen to have their morning coffee. Before I had finished, I was informed that everyone was ready to go and the trailer had been buttoned up. I walked out the back with Gary and John whose coffee was on the house as we had no register system. They smiled and waved as I jumped up into Jerry's large truck and fired it up. I was the only one with 'trailer' experience so became the driver for the load.

I arrived at the center and slid up close to the kitchen door. The crew was waiting for me and had the doors to the trailer opened and were offloading before I had even crawled out of the cab. I grabbed the register area gear and made my way to the lobby to set it up. The center had strung a phone line over to a desk in the entry way that we were to use as our cashier station. After a few shifts and moves and an extra power bar, I stood back and stared looking to insure that it was set for the most efficient use.

I then stepped into the dining room area which was set with the tables and chairs for our guests who were to arrive in a few hours. The tables seemed to be a almost perfect amount. We had 20 tables set out that would set for 160 seats. Since we had reservations for 80 per hour, that would lead us with extra seats in case some seniors wanted to linger a bit. This later turned out to be just the case as some of our 12 o'clock guests stayed until after 2.

I walked through with Richard Smith and showed him the various areas that we were soon to use to make the seniors at home. A table was set up by the main entrance with coffee, cakes, and baskets of apples. The TV was on with the pregame show for the upcoming game. The pool tables were uncovered and ready for play. It all felt good and warm and ready.

The trailer now empty, I drove it to the back of the lot and Richard drove me back to the diner. While he drove the large pots of coffee back to the event, I prepared lists on my computer to make the deliveries easier, printing out maps when needed.

I noticed the time and began to get a bit nervous as it was now 10:30 and I was set to talk to the volunteers at 11......and my mind raced with last minute thoughts.....last minute 'what ifs'. Jayden called to ask to be picked up and I made a quick call to Trinity for her to get him as I just didn't have the time. Richard arrived back to inform me that we would need more croutons as the bread company had only given us half of what we needed. A side trip to Safeway made us end up at the center just minutes before I was to address the help.

I took one last look through all of the stations, looking for anything that seemed out of order. With my paperwork still tucked under my arm and my anxiety level at it's peak, I grabbed a group of my friends who had showed up and we circled for a bit of mind relief in the form of a prayer. I had wanted to say a prayer with all of the volunteers but opted to this group not wanting to dilute the day with any negatives that might come from any volunteer who did not believe as we did. The day was a day of thanksgiving and needed to have this as it's foundation. It all felt so right as we stood in that circle with our heads bowed and I could feel my anxiety wash away.

I brought all of the group together and thanked them for coming, reinforcing our goals of the day. I tried to look them all in the eye so that they might better understand the passion for the event. Thanksgiving is a day for family. And all of these seniors who were soon to arrive were just that today.....our family. I made one last statement before we broke up into our respective groups. If you find yourself not knowing what to do at anytime during the day, look for a senior who is not smiling and do something to make them smile. Make the day, their special day.

The COCOA volunteers broke off to their stations and I brought around the Jake's volunteers to go over last minute things with them. I was not sure who I was going to use to guide the seniors as they came in the room and to insure our larger groups could sit together. I smiled as I looked over at three of our volunteers from years past and realized that one of them was just perfect for the part. The daughter of the group was the one who had juggled olives a couple of years back while her boyfriend and Frank had caught them in his mouth. I asked her if she would take control of the flow and her dad smiled and stated that I had picked the perfect person. "I know", I smiled back.

Going over the cashier station with Nita, Frank's girlfriend who had agreed to cashier for the day, I realized a couple of things that I had missed. I sent Trinity back to the diner for the items and then headed down the hall to go over the deliveries with Pam from COCOA who had Meals on Wheels volunteers who were ready to make them.

Pam took control of the sheets and insured me that they would be handled at the prescribed times. I was so thankful that she was so willing to take that pressure of and I could turn my attention to the guests who were now arriving.

As Judy and I looked across the room, the first thing we realized was that it seemed so quiet and didn't have that 'homey' atmosphere of the diner. I felt that mainly it was because the space was so large and the tables so spread out. Judy mentioned that it needed something and I felt that something might come into play once the band began to play. And it did.

Soon after Paul and his band began, even the server line began to sway with the music. A couple got up and danced in front of the band. Yet another senior got out of his chair and did a little tap dance. I looked across the room at smiling happy faces and it just felt right.

Trinity came and retrieved me as someone from the Bulletin had arrived and I sat and talked with her for a few minutes about how all of this had gotten started. She asked if she could interview a couple of seniors and I said that I was sure that would be OK. I told her to make herself at home with us all and did notice her from time to time during that first hour.

Making my way from station to station, everything seemed to be running so smooth. There were complaints that the band was too loud which was handled easily with a small downturn of the main control on their amp. Then the breakers in the back of the kitchen kept tripping and that was resolved when we moved our heat tables to separate circuits. Those were actually the only two problems that I recall that I needed to help resolve all day. More than one volunteer stated that they could tell that we had put some thought into our preparation.

I walked out onto the main floor to look around and realized something that made me smile even more. Frank was out on the floor making faces smile but there was yet another Frank there also. Frank Spernek who plays poker with us on Mondays and who I have come to realize that is just like us in the 'fun' mode. The next hours musician was walking the floor and both Franks were singing along with his music while they poured coffee. I stepped up as Frank S was harmonizing to one song and joined in on the next one....Sloop John B. As we bellowed out our harmony, seniors around us smiled and clapped. I noticed the Singing Sosas were getting ready to take over for the third hour and had turned to listen. Jeannie Sosa later told me that she did not realize that I could sing. Rousing applause came as we finished our song, bowed to our audience and then went on our way.

I could feel my blood sugar begin to drop so I grabbed a roll from the table and snuck behind the line to the turkey server. "Could you place a couple of pieces on this?", I asked. She turned around startled that someone would be coming behind her for service and seemed almost ready to say, "No" when she realized it was me and smiled, laying out the white meat on my prepared roll with pickles. That is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. A roll with freshly baked turkey and pickles. It is so delicious and brings back memories of past days.

The day rolled by not as quickly as past years but with all of the smiles and thank yous along with the hugs and kisses from thankful seniors. One lady stopped me as I walked by her table. "If you had not done this, we would be eating frozen dinners in front of the TV. Thank you!", she said.

All day long, only one face did not smile as I walked around but I soon noticed that Frank was with him....and he was smiling.

As the last hour wound down, I drove the truck back over into place and we began to break down. Helpers broke down tables and chairs as last minute eaters were still eating. I stopped at the table of one of them and reassured the woman that we were not trying to hurry her. "Please take your time and enjoy", I stated. She cupped my face in her hands, kissed me on the forehead, and gave me a hug. With that jesture, she melted my heart.

I stopped to see an old friend and his father who were enjoying their meal. I pointed across the room to Judy and told them that she was my wife. He looked at me in shock. "I am so sorry.", he said, "She is the one that I tried to pick up on when I came into the room.". "No problem.", I returned, "I can see you have good taste in women.".

Judy and I loaded up the cash register area and the remaining ice cream into her car and returned it to the diner. By the time we returned the truck was nearly loaded, the floor now clear, and the kitchen almost clean thanks to the help of some of the Band of Brothers who had showed up to help.

I drove back to the diner where the remaining crew helped bring out the perishables and items needed for the next day. Jimmy showed up right behind me after stopping at the police station with some of the left overs. That too has become part of the ritual of the event. Our leftovers are taken to the Bend PD who have to work on this holiday so that they can partake also.

With the items put away, the restaurant buttoned up, and security set, Jay and I headed home around 6:30. "It feels like almost midnight.", Jay said. I had to agree, it had been a long day.

My mind wondered to all that I had seen and experienced in the day. I recalled walking by a table where a man there stopped me. "Did the TV stop by for this event?", he said. "No", I answered. "They should have.", he said, "This is great.". "Yes, that would have been nice", I countered, "But that is not what this is all about.". He looked up at me and asked, "What is it about?". I smiled back and said, "You.". I saw a tear in his eye as he grabbed my hand and thanked me. If nothing else had happened that day, that one event, in that one moment, my day had been completed.