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Gene’s Drive-Thru Carry-Out

Growing up we spent every weekend and many weekdays at my grandparents’ house in Clyde.  The big white farmhouse stood with a sort of authority, the same authority that rang through the air when Grandma called us for dinner.  And across the drive from the farmhouse stood Gene’s Drive-Thru Carry-Out.

In between Clyde and Green Creek Township, people drove out of their way to go to Gene’s.  Some say he had the coldest beer around, others came to sit at the counter on tattered stools and scratch lottery tickets and talk about the Cleveland Indians.  Some came because Gene and his kids remembered their orders and had them waiting as soon as they pulled in.

After hours of playing in the yard and being turned away from the cookie jar at Grandma’s house, us kids would run barefoot across the scorching asphalt and open the metal door to the back of “the store.”  Stepping in and cooling our feet on the smooth concrete floor, we sneaked through cardboard boxes and overstock Pepsi and Miller Lite cartons to the doorway that led to Grandpa.  He always stood behind the counter with either my mother, my Aunt Karen or Aunt MaryLynn or Uncle Mike.

As soon as we appeared, all of the customers would ask which of Gene’s kids we belonged to, and what we were up to.  We answered them, reaching into the cooler for a cold pop and then walking out from behind the counter to the wall of candy on the side wall.  We took what we wanted, sometimes daring to go to the freezer for a frozen Snickers bar, and we left.

It’s a wonder we aren’t all kleptomaniacs.  It is NOT a wonder that I was pretty chunky throughout my childhood.

I did a lot of growing up in that store.  I learned to play the clarinet with my cousin Heather.  I got locked in the cooler with a dead pig and my cousin Meghan.  “Momma Cat” had a batch of kittens in a garbage bag back by the bathroom and then left them for dead.  I scanned lottery tickets to my heart’s content.

I was heartbroken when Grandpa sold the store.  He retired and began working at Wilson’s Clothing part time instead.  They sold the store to a local couple, and during a chain of drive-thru robberies, Denise was shot:

“Less than 30 minutes after Hovis reported The Gables robbery to police, the body of 42-year-old Denise Clink was found at Gene’s Drive-Thru, just outside the city limits of Clyde, a small town in Sandusky County best known as the home of a Whirlpool factory. Robinson, police concluded, had shot Clink during a robbery of the drive-through that she and her husband owned.”  -Brad Dicken, The Chronicle-Telegram

It was terrifying.  Grandpa’s store became a place where a murder happened.  It was a friend who was killed…and worse, it could have been our grandpa.

Gene’s Drive-Thru is still standing, although vacant.  It’s mostly just memories now, memories that I hope someday we can revive.  I don’t know how to run a business, but it’s always an option.  It took Grandpa a lot of years to build up that clientele, and he was as loyal to them as they were to him.

I do miss that carry-out though.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in When I Was Young

 

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Grandpa’s 81!

Grandpa Gene is 81!  Whoa.  And if you’re not from Clyde or Fremont, Ohio, you don’t know this, but Grandpa’s birthday is almost a national holiday (ask him, go ahead).  For weeks, he readies himself for this big occasion.  It’s a celebration all around town, at the Drug Mart and the Speedway, at McDonald’s and the Circle K, the VFW and all the places where Grandpa makes his rounds each day.

One of the things I love most about my Grandpa is that he loves Loves LOVES lottery tickets (probably more than he loves his own birthday).  Scratchers.  All the time.  🙂  In fact, when he owned Gene’s Drive-Thru Carry-Out in Clyde (I think I have my post for tomorrow), the slogan on his t-shirts (and for the store in general) was “Play the Lotto with Slotto!”

Didn't believe me, didja?

Grant in his t-shirt.

So Grandpa had an awesome birthday.  And he got a lot of lottery tickets.

Grant, Grandma, Grandpa

Every time Grandpa opened a gift at his birthday party, Grant would say, “More lottery tickets?!”  He did get quite a few lottery tickets.  I can see how a kid would be disappointed with repeat presents.

The other thing I love about Grandpa is his love for all Cleveland teams.  See the Wahoo shirt?  That’s one of hundreds, I’m sure.  And Grandma (isn’t she frickin’ adorable?) is the same way.  She loves watching the Cleveland Indians.

And we all came to celebrate at my parents’ house in Fremont.  Even baby Jax!  Now where are we going to find a tiny Gene’s Drive-Thru shirt for him?

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Daily Happenings

 

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The Mud Puddle

At the request of my dear friend and former student, Jerry, I am writing again about my childhood.

My cousins and I spent every weekend on my grandparents’ farm, where we searched for Jessie Simmons’ tongue, and our sweet Grandma Cleobelle rarely let us in the house if it was nice out.  So we spent a lot of time inventing games, climbing trees, and getting into trouble.

This is my grandparents' barn. In front of this was the mud puddle.

In front of the barn, there was a perpetual mud puddle.  After it rained, it could be as deep as halfway up to our shins.  During the drought of 1988, it turned into flake clay mud that blew away in the dry wind.  But for the majority of my childhood, it was a mud puddle.

We rejoiced in riding our bikes through it, spraying water up on our backs and the cousins who were unlucky enough to ride behind us.  We filled water guns and Solo cups for water fights, and built mud pies out of the thick mud below the rocks.  And if we were lucky enough to find something that floated, we had make-believe sea adventures.  Even though Grandma wouldn’t let us into the house after such antics, we still played in the mud puddle, ate dinner with our muddy hands, and smear mud on our arms and faces like war paint.

What is it about a puddle, or mud, or dirt that draws children in?  Perhaps it’s an innate instinct to locate water and exist near it.  Perhaps it is just because we can.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2011 in When I Was Young

 

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