Changes (Where to Eat)

On the day before the funeral, Mom drove me around Evansville to show me all the new developments in town. I realized it had been almost a year since I’d been back to my hometown. A lot had changed. Sure, there were still the chain restaurants on the main drag, with their old, familiar names: Nothing But Nuts; Pretzels, Etcetera; Mostly Toast, Jamba jr, Milkshakes and Company, That Fudge Thing…

But now, as the population grew, there were a slew of new chains catering to family faire. All-you-can-eat places like J.T. Allibaster’s Clean Plate Society, and a bunch of those get-your-own-personal-crockpot places like Norman Crockwell’s. That one sounded promising, but we didn’t have six hours. Maybe call ahead for tomorrow, we agreed…then we shared a sad silence. Tomorrow…the funeral.

In a town and in a family, change happens so slowly and so constantly that I hardly ever notice it. For better or for worse, it’s moments like these–deaths and rare visits–that give me a snapshot of a time and place that I can hold up for comparison. Oh hey, The Bread Connection!

The Bread Connection was on Restaurant Row right next to Johnny Cato’s Italian Concern, Why Nott’s?, Hold the Attitude, and Applebees. No need for a sit-down meal–it was just the two of us. We headed to the mall. I wanted to buy a decent shirt since I would be giving the eulogy.

Eastland Mall is known for two things: building (at that time) the largest Old Navy Store in Indiana, and a world-class food court. All the staples were there: Mashed!, Hot Crossed Puns, Potato Junction, The Pasta People, Two Guys and a Hot Plate, The Calzone Authority, Ewww!; Ewww, Too!; PizzaPhone, You can’t Eat That on Television.

Plus the trendy new stuff like we have in Chicago: Just Crust, Edible Furniture Gallery, and the throwback, Apartheid Cafe.

Alex would have liked that last one, I thought. Leave that out of the eulogy? We sat down over a Denver Scramble at a small table in front of Eggs You Very Much and I took out my pen.