The Quarter

It really is a small world.  Here's a story of a circle which took almost sixty years to complete.

Back in another Age of Innocence, growing up in Bergenfield, NJ was a really fun time for us kids in the 1950's.  Our mothers would think nothing of giving each of us fifty or sixty cents on a Saturday to form a group of "ten or so" somethings, shushed us off  to Washington Ave (the main street) to grab a bite to eat, then go to the movies.  Lord knows they deserved a break; we were a fairly wild bunch.

Off we would go the six or so blocks to our first stop, the Corner Luncheonette.  It was a mom, pop, and two son operation, where I first got to like hamburgers.  Before then, I just put ketchup on them, when Gene, one of the sons, said,

"You've got to put mustard on it also."

Bingo.  Still do it to this day.

In fact, the next time we had burgers at home, and I put ketchup AND mustard on mine, my mother gave me that "What are you doing... kids today" look.  It was the same look I gave our son the first time he put ketchup, not mustard, on his hot dog. 

All of us kids looked up to Gene, he was a few years older, probably just starting high school.  However, it was the way he entertained us while at the counter which had us coming back almost every Saturday, sort of like a warm up show before the the double or triple feature at the Palace Theater.  I remember to this day that the burger and the soda fountain coke cost thirty cents, and Gene, as a finale to his act would bounce the quarter off the counter top, then catch it in his apron's front pocket.

I'm quite sure we all enjoyed the movies all the more after Gene's setup, and filed the indelible memory forever.

It didn't end there, though.

A few years ago while our new home in Marlboro was being constructed, I stopped in the development to check the progress.  This man and his wife on bicycles stopped to talk and welcome me to the neighborhood.  When the man said he was also from Bergenfield, and his parents used to own a luncheonette in town, I realized I was talking to Gene.

We both laughed at the world's smallness, and I asked if, when we settled in could he make me burger, and bounce a quarter off the counter top.

Before he could answer, Lee his wife said,

"Not on my granite!"

Another laugh from an old, new found friend.

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