My parents came to town in ’52 and bought a bar with a Chinese restaurant attached.
I guess Pop just figured that if he owned the bar, it would cut down on his cost of drinking and Mama had been waiting tables at the “Y” tavern in Oregon City, anyway.
So Kismit, kinda, sorta.
Along with the transaction came a couple of Chinese cooks, dressed in white, short sleeved shirts and bibbed aprons; thin paper hats covered their hair and long black braids hung down their back. Behind them, heavy meat cleavers lie on sturdy wooden, free standing cutting boards, the kind that you never see anymore, dressed with whole, plucked chickens, heads resting over the chopping block, feet in the air.
It was like a Disney cartoon.
We discovered a picture buried in a brown bag deep in the back closet; from the old growing up restaurant days, me sitting cross-legged on the floor, squeezed in this little pass through area we had so the waitresses could place their orders and pick up the meals.
It’s not even a hallway, really, lit by afterthought and the glow from the heat lamps, swinging door with a slit window for entrance and a counter for keeping the hot line separate.
A good bit of my long haired teens went up that creaky ventilation system, feared for my life each time we “broasted” chicken, a medieval combination of pressure cooking and deep frying that finished quickly, let off steam periodically, and had a temperature gauge/regulator that occasionally blew with a fury that made a person’s heart race.
That was 40 years past and what remains are a few photographs, fuzzy memories and a big metal bowl that we used for mixing.
That bowl held the starter for the bread we made each day that began this business a dozen years ago.
It’s already Fall, winter not far behind, the Holidays; time passes in a fluidity of constant pace and one awakens, as if from a dream, to find all is different, years gone by.