Saying goodbye, along Memory Lane

Four generations, half removed. My dad, me, my great-grandfather and my namesake, William Pitcher I.

Four generations, in 1977: William S., William E., Stephen H, and William B. Pitcher, my grandfather, who died last month at age 96. Photo from Richard Lindmark.

Rolling in the procession to my grandfather’s final resting place yesterday, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. Because as my 7-year-old self would tell you, once you pass the Dairy Queen and the old Italian Delight building, round the bend and bear down on the bridge over the Kline Kill, you’re home. The big house on the other side — that’s Grammy and Grampy’s house.

I am now 40, but it will always be Grammy and Grampy’s house. But it is not the same world.

The processional slowed past the home, now restored by his son and family to its Victorian glory. I showed some of his other grandchildren and his great-grandchildren where his garden used to be.

Past the site of his organized chaos of a farm machinery shop where he worked so hard for 30 years — destroyed in a fire 20 years ago and now the home of his son’s and grandson’s auto business.

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Taking a stab at newspaper’s questions

What's my favorite kitchen tool? A new doughnut cutter I picked up at Johnstown Restaurant Supply.

What’s my favorite kitchen tool? A new doughnut cutter I picked up the other day at Johnstown Restaurant Supply.

I’ve long been a closeted fan of tommy:eats, a North Jersey food blog I respect enough to type it correctly. I don’t always agree with him — we had public disagreements when I manned the food blog at The Record down there  —  but I admire his knowledge and appreciate his critical eye toward not only food but the stuff people write about it.

So when he took well-deserved aim at aspects of a Chef Q&A that my former paper started a few years ago, I noticed.

Basically, the paper poses several questions to chefs and presumably prints the answers verbatim. On his Facebook page, Tommy flagged some of the answers of the latest chef, and we agreed that this clown probably was just trying to just answer questions in ways that subtly promoted his restaurant rather than answering from the heart.

Then it got me wondering how I’d answer.

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Editing my grandfather’s diner

I simply cannot stand when a restaurant or business cannot decide what its name is. The usual problem is punctuation.

Was it Legends Steakhouse or Legend’s Steakhouse, I asked in a review of a mediocre restaurant in Midland Park, N.J. A few months later, in my final post on that newspaper’s blog, I revisited the issue, noting how funny it was the nearby Italian restaurant Lu Nello called itself Lunello’s in emails.

I even try to politely correct people who refer to our camp as SAC, when it should simply be Sac, short for Sacandaga. It’s an affectionate nickname, not an acronym.

Now it’s time to scold my grandfather.

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Change still easy to come by

I took a spin through some of the pages in the margin of the website — our suppliers, who I am — wow, things have changed since this rodeo started.

Even in just the last month.

One of my kitchen staffers caught me during a quiet moment. I didn't know about this photo until it showed up on Facebook.

One of my kitchen staffers caught me during a quiet moment. I didn’t know about this photo until it showed up on Facebook.

Our supply chain has been completely upended in the last year after our primary supplier, the largest foodservice company in the world, let its service lapse, giving us a salesman who doesn’t visit and doesn’t even pick up the phone sometimes.

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Happy note in shop’s closing

It’s rare that I’ll dance on a grave and celebrate the closing of a food business, because I understand the physical and financial sacrifices that go into owning one.

But I am so thankful to the generosity of the owner of this particular convenience store and doughnut shop (look at the picture; no need for it to be Googleable). The morning after the building was bought by its competitor across the street last week, our camp was invited to take whatever we could before the new owners moved in.
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