Growing up my grandmother owned a restaurant off the interstate in Nebraska. Just south of the Milford exit was Skelly Cafe. West of Lincoln in what seems to be the middle of nowhere but yet not too far from the "city" of Lincoln. Off the interstate to the north was a motel with a huge teepee... very yellow/orange in color. You take the Milford exit and to the north was a gas station in the shape of a covered wagon and if you head south over the interstate was Skelly Cafe... what we would call 'the cafe'.
|Nelda (my grandma) long before I was in the picture... at Skelly|
Coming in the front door I would sit at the counter and watch my grandma go back and forth. I loved to listen to the stacking of the plastic cups and seeing who would bring out the highest stack. I would listen to the dishwasher, the conversations of the staff and customers, the cling of the cash register and the sizzle of the grill.
I have always been an observer in life. I sit back quietly and watch the world move around me. I remember the huge flies in the windows, the spinning of the tickets in the kitchen window and my favorite... the making of the shakes. My mom would only let us order a shake when it wasn't busy so it was quite the treat... nice and thick shakes too.
This was like any other small town cafe. The locals would come on a regular schedule and the waitresses knew everyone's name, what was going on in their life and pretty much their entire extended family. Some of the waitresses worked there forever.
The cafe was a place my family would gather. It would be a meeting place, a place for celebration or just to get together. Even after my grandma sold the place we would still gather there.
When the cafe was finally sold for the last time as a cafe it felt like a huge shift. I hadn't lived in Nebraska for quite some time but when I would visit we would always have at least one meal at the cafe. The last I heard it is now a dinosaur museum.
I imagine my time at the cafe when I pass thru these abandoned towns. I also think of what it would of been like in these towns... what type of gatherings would of took place... do those gatherings take place somewhere else or are they something of the past... what are the memories that are with those worn out buildings.
So, I guess, I was a part of roadside America. I might not of traveled or been there during it's prime but I was a witness to the change.