Best Friends Forever
If your best friend owned a restaurant and asked you to dress like a clown and walk in the town’s homecoming parade – would you join him?
I wish I would have talked to Dad and his best friend Bob about the day they really did become clowns, but now I can only imagine the laughs the two of them shared. They probably chuckled as they were getting themselves ready, and I imagine their laughter as they visited others in town after the parade.
Being a clown for a day – shouldn’t this be on everyone’s bucket list? Where do we order the clown suits? The photo shows Dad with a plastic nose, and he apparently put a small band-aid on the nose. And their wigs – where did the wigs come from?
My dad and Bob Richardson were best of friends. Bob was known for his jovial personality, and his pretty wife Carol worked alongside him at their restaurant. Bob’s Dairy Bar was affectionately known as “Bob’s.” The Richardson children – Rob, Shelly, Brent, and Lori – helped their parents run the family business throughout their growing up years.
Bob’s was in business for forty years, serving breakfast, lunch, and supper, so it’s safe to say Bob and Carol served more meals than anyone could count. And oh the hard work that must have been involved.
Throughout those 40 years, Bob and Carol employed many young people who now fondly recall the days they worked at Bob’s as a first job. If you were a customer, you can join in any conversation that revolves around the menu and the good times we now realize we took for granted.
The restaurant was not open on Sundays, so Bob and Dad sometimes completed little maintenance-type jobs early on Sunday mornings. My siblings and I would occasionally accept a ride in the hardware truck and check out the restaurant when only the back door was unlocked.
We were told that someone needed to take care of the day-old donuts, and it was a duty we could complete between spins on the bar stools. There were opportunities to find out how a soda fountain worked and pour our own drinks. The selection of candy included Switzer’s black licorice for those who dared.
I wonder if the juke box and pinball machines are still in working order, perhaps displayed in an antique mall or game room, making the same sounds we heard decades ago.
You could seat yourself at a table or booth of your choice. At the back of the restaurant was a large round table, still referred to as the “the round table.” Anyone from Edgerton knows it’s where the men of the community sat and talked. Apparently their ideas to solve the world’s problems were never implemented.
I don’t know why the milkshakes were the best, but people are still talking about their favorites, along with their favorite burger, served on a sheet of wax paper in a plastic basket along with the best French fries imaginable. The yellow and red squirt bottles were on the tables in case you needed some mustard or ketchup.
Back in 1959, a group of Edgerton teenagers won the Ohio State High School Basketball Tournament, and a rather large photo of the team, coaches, and cheerleaders hung near the front of Bob’s restaurant. Of course it was, and still is, a great photo. Every time I looked at the picture, I not only saw a group of strong young players, I saw the wooden frame my dad had made for it.
I have heard bits and pieces about the tournament games that led to the Ohio State Championship Title, and it’s quite a story. I hope to write about it someday, even though I wasn’t there.
One of the perks of my having been a home health nurse was reconnecting with old family friends, and the Richardsons were one of those families. Bob told me he remembers the day I was born, and we talked about how many dads and grandfathers walked into Bob’s to let others know about a new arrival in their family.
My mom wrote about the birth of my brother Steven, and I know part of the story was the announcement of a boy, after two girls: Jeanette and me. Dad was overjoyed and went to Bob’s to tell everyone. A few days later, Dad would need to return to the restaurant to let them know how very special Steven was and the baby would be coming home to be raised in Edgerton – not in an institution as one of the specialists had advised.
I wonder what words my dad came up with to tell his friends the news. Certainly there was concern for the family. I do know there were more than a few friends and family members who stepped forward to say they were there to help and many words of encouragement were spoken. I never asked Bob what he remembers about conversations with my dad, but Steven has great memories of times he spent at the restaurant.
Bob and Carol did speak about popular menu items and the recipes they used. I learned one of his famous burgers was topped with cole slaw, and that’s why it was so good. Had I known I would one day want to write about the restaurant, I would have taken notes.
Bob told me he could not have asked for a better best friend than my dad, and that is one statement I will never forget. I was in agreement with him – for I could not have asked for a better father. Like many others in Edgerton, we had great dads.
More than once, Carol laughed as she told the story of Santa peeking in the window of their home when their children were young, and Bob told his side of the story – which was from the other side of the window.
When I was sorting through papers about my sister’s open heart surgery in 1960, I found an Edgerton Earth newspaper column “Star Gazing,” written by Don Houk. Mom saved the article because Mr. Houk shared a humorous story about his donation of blood in Indianapolis the day before Elaine’s surgery. Not only did Don write about a letter he received, he happened to mention the Richardson family.
His story reads:
“Congratulations to you, too! The fact that you have qualified under the necessarily rigid tests before you were accepted as a donor indicates that you are blessed with good blood and good health. These are precious gifts.”
This has me confused. It is an excerpt of a letter from the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis where 24 of us gave blood for Elaine Kimpel. It is a mimeographed form letter signed by J. L. Arbogast, M.D.
Why am I confused? They must have forgotten that I blacked out after giving my pint. I fought the nurses and orderly with flailing hands and feet. I turned a ghostly shade of white and they wouldn’t let anyone else in the “drawing” room while I was there. (I guess they didn’t want everyone else to see such a horrible example of a blood donor!)
This is good health?
I should have the same good health as Art Radabaugh… his blood was so well “aged,” according to one of the nurses, that they put it in two plastic bags.
Pretz Stark still maintains that Elaine came through her operation in better shape than I did the blood donation.
We all had a good time. Everyone was paid tenfold by the unspoken gratitude shining from Vern’s eyes that day in Fesler Hall.
At the bottom of the column, Don wrote:
Ask Robby Richardson about Santa Claus. Rob is sure Santa wears shoes and his cheeks are as rosy as his Dad’s. The soon-to-be-four year old tike visited Santa during the American Legion Christmas party last Thursday night. To top it all off, Santa talks just like his Dad, too!
Like my parents, Bob and Carol were surrounded by many wonderful friends who were always there for each other. Bob said my dad was one of the guys who helped build the wheelchair ramp onto the front of their home. It was the men of the community who threw the money together to buy the needed lumber and supplies, and it was the men of the community who spent time and energy getting the project done.
If only the world would have listened to those men who sat at “the round table” way back in the day – our world’s problems truly would have been solved by now.
© Marlene Oxender 2021