Native Pittsburghers will automatically recognize this photo.
This is an Eat’ n Park Smiley cookie. It is a circle of light, sugary deliciousness. One bite instantly transports me back to my beloved hometown in western PA.
The Eat’n Park restaurant is a staple of life where I grew up. It is the type of place where you are greeted with a smile, the food is fresh and fast, the coffee is always hot, and you can sit and talk for hours. It tends to be loved by natives and tolerated by transplants. To this day my husband, who moved to the area in his 20s, is perpetually mystified by my insistence on visiting the place at least three times on any given visit to PA. 🙂 Every time I walk in the door, my face breaks into a smile and I love the feeling that I am home.
Earlier this week, an old friend of my brother’s visited our town with his family. Imagine my delight when John and his wife Deanna walked through our front door holding a container of Smiley cookies! A taste of my hometown from 700 miles away!
After dinner, I surprised our guests and my brother Jeff by playing a videotape of Jeff’s high school graduation party from 1987. The tape began to play and suddenly, there we all were in living color on a sun-drenched June day in all our 80s glory: big hair, high waisted jeans, tube socks, aviator sunglasses…and to John’s embarrassment and Deanna’s delight…tight shorts and gold chains!
We were all so skinny!
For all the laughter, watching that video was bittersweet. Several loved ones seen laughing, eating, and chatting are now gone from our lives. How wonderful it was to once again hear their voices (I especially loved hearing my dad’s laugh). The house where I grew up was sold to another family seven years ago.
I love that through the gift of technology, we can go back and view or listen to a particular moment in time. For that reason, I am forever capturing family events via camera or video. Several summers ago, I interviewed my parents and my dad’s siblings in the living room of my childhood home. I had sent them the list of questions I would ask beforehand so they would have a chance to think about their answers. As they sat down for the taping, they all seemed self-conscious by the presence of the videocamera. My aunt Dot fretted that there was nothing special about any of them and didn’t think she would have much to say. I assured her they were all special and began to tape. Over an hour later, they were still going strong, sharing story after fascinating story. I ran out of tape before they ran out of anecdotes and stories.
It was one of the best days of my life, having a front row seat to listen to the memories of members of the Greatest Generation.
My dad was gone one year later.
Josh was only 6 and Julia was 5 when he died. Each year, their memories of him grow more hazy. Yet…at any time, they can slip in the DVD and listen to their grandad talk about his life. What a priceless treasure.
So, this weekend, be sure to pick up your camera and capture your moments.
And if you live in Pittsburgh, treat yourself to a visit to Eat’n Park! 🙂