Who Knew Over Easy Eggs Could Force Me To Mature?

Last week, when I was visiting family in Pennsylvania,  I ate out more times in two days than I did from the time I was 0 to 13. This behavior would have shocked my frugal parents back in the ’50s and ’60s.

From the time I was born until I was thirteen I think I dined out twice. (I did tour the McDonalds in Beaver Falls with the Girl Scouts once, and got a free hamburger, so I guess that counts. OK, three times.) I have a vague recollection of eating French fries at a Woolworths with my Mom once, but that could have just been a dream.

My father didn’t believe in eating out. He’d smoothly drive past whatever restaurant or ice cream stand we were begging to go to, and say, “What restaurant? Oh, did you want to stop? Well too late now. We have better stuff than that at home.” This always left me wondering if he was cheap or we were poorer than I realized.

No dining out for you kid!

Kindergarten me, a dining virgin.

The first time I ever ate out I was five. My mother pulled me out of kindergarten to have lunch with her and Ethel Bloom, the Stanley Home Products lady. My mother wouldn’t pull me out of school even if I was a bloody lump, so this was clearly, important

Ethel was taking my mom out to lunch because Mom had apparently achieved a level unsurpassed in Stanley history for buying things like furniture polish, mops, scrub brushes, and cake holders. (I was amazed to see Stanley still exists.) I think Ethel was a breath of fresh air for Mom, who didn’t leave the house unless someone drove her.

Ethel was slim, friendly, nurturing and a great businesswoman with perfectly styled gray hair. She wore red lipstick, horn rimmed glasses, and nice clothes. She liked my mom and could have sold her every home product Stanley made. Correction: She did sell her every home product Stanley made. My Italian mother loved Ethel because she was smart, self-sufficient, and probably rich, so it was mutually beneficial.

I sat in the back seat of Ethel’s noisy, black Volkswagen Beetle, inhaling gas fumes, and didn’t care. I couldn’t believe that in a few minutes I’d be able to sit down at a table and order whatever I wanted and they’d bring it! Once we arrived at the Garden Gate Restaurant in Butler, I ordered fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and my favorite drink; chocolate milk. That lunch confirmed my theory that restaurants were actually heaven.

I was 13 before I ate out again. We went to the Brown Derby for my brother’s rehearsal dinner, where I began my tempestuous affair with baked potatoes with butter and sour cream. My dad complained about the bill for decades.

Things improved dramatically from my teenage years to my twenties and restaurants were no longer a wonderland for me, but they were still a thrill for my mom. She didn’t get out much because she was afraid to drive. Her first attempts left the car sideways on an icy hill, and my father with even less hair.

After college, I landed a sales job that offered freedom, a company car and a decent salary, but forced me to spend my days trying to make Listerine and Effergrip sound mesmerizing. My territory included my hometown, so, after a soul-numbing morning of sales, I decided to take Mom to lunch.

Within two minutes of my arrival she was ready to go, with her purse in her hand and a huge smile on her face. We drove to Eat n’ Park in Beaver Falls, where she read the menu very carefully, trying to decide between breakfast and lunch.

The waitress came by and asked if we were ready. Mom said she had a few questions, but seemed ready, so I ordered my usual salad dish. Then it was her turn. I held my breath.

Mom: “Honey, can a you pleece a tella me what’s eenna dissa salad?

Waitress: “Well that’s our Chef Salad with meat and cheese.”

Mom: “You ting eetsa good?”

Waitress: “Yeah, it’s good.”

Mom: “Tell a me honey, what you ting issa good a here?”

Waitress: “Well, it depends on what you like.”

Mom: “ How do dey make a da feesh?”

Waitress: “Well they can fry it or broil it.”

Mom: “Is it a pooty fresh?”

Waitress: “Yeah, it’s fresh.”

Mom: “Anna honey, whadda kind a meat is inna diissa chef salad?”

Waitress: “There’s ham and bacon in that one.”

Mom:  ‘Ha aboutta you suggestta for a me honey cause I don’d a know what’s a good…Frenzy, you ting a I should get a breakfast or lonje?”

Fran: “I think you’ll like the breakfast.”

Mom: “Yeah, I ting a breakfast sounds a pooty good…

OK, Honey, I wanna two eggs, how you say it Frenzy?”

Fran: “Over…”

Mom, ready to deepa da bread into something.

Mom, ready to deepa da bread into something. Note juice glass for wine – standard in Italian homes.

Mom: (interrupting) “So you can a deepa da bread in dem! And I’ll take a da ham, bacon anna sausage.”

Waitress: “Well, you can only get one; ham, bacon or sausage.”

Mom: (disappointed) “Oh, you mean I canna only peek a one?”

Waitress: “Yes, I’m sorry.”

Mom: “Okay, den a honey I ting I’ll a take a da bacon. Annna honey, make a sure da padadas are cronchy, dats a da way I lige a dem. Honey, can I have anadder cuppa coffee? Dissa one really hitta da spot.”

Okay, I know I made the big speech about how after mother daughter night in high school, when my mom made pizza that everyone loved, I had more appreciation for her, and was never going to be embarrassed by her again, but even in my 20s, I could feel myself slipping.

I just prayed she wouldn’t take out her partial plate and use the prongs to pick at her remaining teeth right there in the restaurant. She was famous for that.

 How could I not smile and love this woman?

How could I not smile and love this woman?

Then I looked at her across from me. She smiled and said, “Honey, dis issa so nice datta you’re takinna me outta to lonje — I weesh a we could a do it alla da time.”

How could I do anything but love this woman, partial plate and all? The waitress even got a kick out of her and we all ended up laughing. This lunch marked the day when I stopped trying to correct her, and instead, worked on remembering her classic lines.

I was finally trudging up the hill to maturity with my mom behind me, ordering eggs so you can deepa da bread inna dem.

20 thoughts on “Who Knew Over Easy Eggs Could Force Me To Mature?

  1. Pingback: I Could Use Your Help – Can You Nominate Me? | At Fran's Table

    • Thanks Joann, I am so glad you enjoy the blogs. I just wish she would have lived longer, so I had more stories! I still have a few up my sleeve. Enjoy the rest of your summer and thanks, as always, for reading! xoxo

  2. After church on Sundays, we would always beg to go out to lunch. My dad would say, “I’ve got a great place I’m going to take you to for lunch.” And then he would rattle off our home address. Yep, that was where we were going for lunch. Home. Oh joy of joys. Sandwiches and potato chips. One might surmise that what separates man from the animals is that we are able to separate slices of bologna with our bare hands. And squeeze a mustard bottle. Ah, the good old days at my house in the 1960’s.
    My happy childhood memories are not of the culinary sort. Let me just say that processed lunch meat has not passed my lips since 1971. Once I broke free from the shackles of Oscar Mayer, I never looked back.
    This was a great post, Fran. Your mother was certainly a large personality! Isn’t it interesting how things will kick in at some point and we can see people/situations as being quirky instead of annoying? I guess that is indeed the “growing up” part. Or maybe it’s the part of our brain that begins to understand life’s ironies, the entertainment value, and the endearing qualities of our loved ones who are so different from ourselves. Or all of the above.
    Your story was wonderful!

    • Thank you Leslie. I too ate bologna, but I liked it. (We didn’t get it that often, so it was a treat.) My dad used to fry circles of it for breakfast, culinary genius that he was. I’m so happy to hear I was not alone in never eating out. I don’t feel nearly as persecuted now. Thanks, as always for reading and taking the time to comment! xoxox

  3. My grandfather hated to go out to eat! Never thought it was better than the food he and grandma could make at home, without the wait and the price 🙂 You always share the best stories! And I especially love that that memorable day marked a turning point for you.

  4. What a wonderful memory! We also never ate out because my Dad thought Mom was the best cook in the world! (and I think he was a little on the cheap side!) Did you grow up in Beaver Falls? My sister married one of the Crognales – Ron.

  5. Fabulous post! So much fun! My parents actually enjoyed going out to nice restaurants, however, it was hard to please my Mom because she was such a great cook. I do miss those times, and missing my Mom so much these days. Seems harder as it goes on instead of easier. My Mom enjoyed all types of foods and was eager to try new things. My Dad did as well, guess that is where I get it from! Later on we started going out for Thanksgiving when it was just the two of us, and we went to very nice places which she enjoyed. I did miss the smell of the food cooking in the house however, but times change. Hope you have a lovely weekend!!

    • Oh Rosemary, I feel for you. If you know some of your mom’s recipes, it helps to cook them. Then it’s like she’s right there with you. I love that feeling. My mom loved going to restaurants also, but always said one of two things: “Dis issa da best I ever had!” or “I canna make better danna dis at home.”

  6. Another classic “Mom” tale, Frenzy. I prefer to drink wine from a small juice glass. Maybe my Italian step-family did this, but I don’t remember. P.S. I sent Andy the info this afternoon.

    • Thanks Linda, I figured it was time for another one. I still have a few up my sleeve. Next time we’re together, we’ll drink wine from jelly glasses! Thanks for reading! xoxox

  7. Excellent Fran! From: At Fran’s Table To: btunno@bernietunnoins.com Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 10:16 AM Subject: [New post] Who Knew Over Easy Eggs Could Force Me To Mature? #yiv4987356503 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4987356503 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4987356503 a.yiv4987356503primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4987356503 a.yiv4987356503primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4987356503 a.yiv4987356503primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4987356503 a.yiv4987356503primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4987356503 WordPress.com | Fran Tunno posted: “Last week, when I was visiting family in Pennsylvania,  I ate out more times in two days than I did from the time I was 0 to 13. This behavior would have shocked my frugal parents back in the 50’s and 60’s.From the time I was born until I was thirteen” | |

  8. Awww Marianne, thank you so much! I am so glad you could relate. Funny how many changes a few decades can bring. Thanks, as always, for being a fabulous follower! I hope you’re enjoying Texas.

  9. Love this Fran. I am in Texas and too lazy to find my password to comment on your site. Will hunt down the password later. Right on about not eating out as a kid! Surely that was my life!! Marianne Gazzilli

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Well, I am not at my desktop where I feel ” comfortable” with this communication via technology. I tried to comment earlier and I see it on your site. I did not think it would make it there as I did not have my password. We can laugh about this, I am sure, when we plan another outing for lunch.
      I loved this latest entry! I relate to it 100%. Eating out was not in my family’s routine. My memory is my mother being appalled at what they would charge for something she can make herself at home. And of course, her version of the meal was always better! Of course, eating out finally became a treat as the years went on. And yes, when my parents came to see me in California, we would go out to restaurants here that they did not have in my hometown in upstate New York! Thanks again for your ability to bring a smile and a touch of “home” to me. Marianne

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