Friday, February 24, 2006

Goodbye to two friends

The good news today, my dad says, is he doesn't have to break it to Fritzi that the Berghoff is closing. She would be so upset.

When I went to Chicago for the first time on a college art class trip, Mom told me about the Berghoff and the Palmer House. In the early years of marriage before I broke onto their scene, my parents took the train to Chicago for baseball games, visits to the Art Institute, and lunches at the Berghoff.

I've only been to Chicago three times, but the Berghoff was a part of every trip. The wonderful waiters with the white towels over their arms were a constant in a world that sometimes seemed to be skidding off the track. After 108 years the Berghoff family is closing the restaurant.

Time passes. The soap opera intro says, "As sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." The black wall clock on the blue wall has been at the dining room heart of our family for forty five years. The clean Fifties design is by George Nelson for Herman Miller, I think. About thirty years ago the second hand began to lag at a certain point in its orbit that gave meals a sense of pauses and nonlinear time.

Howie and Fritz's first grandchild was transfixed by The Clock. This colicky little guy always responded to the sight of the twelve black circles and the moving hands. He started saying "clock" about the same time he could say "mama", well before his first birthday.

Now it is always thirty-five seconds past the minute. How will Dad break the news to my son? Time moves on, even if the clock hands don't. Eat the dumplings while ye may.

To Virgins to Make Much of Time
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting;
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best, which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings fellow Berghoff lover!

There is a link to this post at The Berghoff Memorial Blog. If you would like it removed, please let me know.

The Berghoff Memorial Blog is a place to share stories and memories of this beloved eatery. The Berghoff may be gone, but it will never be forgotten.

Cheers and auf wiedersehen.